UNESCO beaver hills biosphere

The Beaver Hills Biosphere

The foundation upon which the Beaver Hills Biosphere was built, the Beaver Hills Initiative, was formed in 2002 after the staff at Elk Island National Park identified the need to address unprecedented pressures from rapid growth and increased economic activity adjacent to the Park in and around the Beaver Hills moraine.

With the involvement of 20+ partner organizations, the Beaver Hills Initiative functioned as a regional, multi-stakeholder collaborative effort to address development and land use planning issues within the Beaver Hills moraine, with a focus on balancing sustainable economic and human development with environmental conservation.

In addition to providing a platform for partners to share and develop tools and knowledge to balance sustainable economic and human development with environmental conservation in the region, the considerable efforts of the Beaver Hills Initiative partners led to the designation of the Beaver Hills as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2016.

Learn more about the Beaver Hills Biosphere.

The Vision

The Beaver Hills Biosphere values the region for its natural beauty and quality of life, and supports co-operative efforts to sustain the quality of water, land, air, natural resources and community development. Visit the Beaver Hills Biosphere website to learn more and register to receive the Beaver Hills Bulletin in your email.

Beaver Hills Biodiversity Trail

The trail is located at 52521 Range Road 211. It is 1 km south of Township Road 530 (Baseline Road), on the east side of the Strathcona Wilderness Centre. GPS Coordinates: 53° 31' 47.7984'' N - 112° 58' 25.6656'' W. Strathcona County celebrated the opening of the Beaver Hills Biodiversity Trail on September 9, 2016 along with partners in the Beaver Hills Initiative.

View a map of the Beaver Hills Biodiversity Trail below, or learn more about trails in Strathcona County.

Beaver Hills Biodiversity Trail

The Beaver Hills Biosphere received UNESCO biosphere designation on March 19, 2016, at the 4th World Congress of UNESCO Biosphere Reserves in Lima, Peru. Located in the south east corner of Sherwood Park, AB and extending east of Elk Island National Park. (336.2 KB) The Beaver Hills is an extensively treed, upland area consisting of rolling to hummocky terrain rich in native wetlands and aspen dominated Boreal mixed wood forest habitat. The ‘knob and kettle’ topography supports a high diversity of vegetation, waterfowl, mammals and birds. The Biosphere is situated immediately east of the City of Edmonton - the fastest growing metropolitan region of Canada. 

The area is a critical source of surface and ground water, and a large proportion of lands, both public and private, exist in their natural state. 

The Biosphere includes Elk Island National Park, the five rural municipalities (Beaver, Camrose, Lamont, Leduc, and Strathcona County) as well as several provincial parks and protected areas, such as the Ministik Bird Sanctuary, Blackfoot/Cooking Lake Recreational Area and Miquelon Lake Provincial Park. Rapid growth in population and increased economic activity throughout Alberta and particularly in Alberta’s Capital Region are placing unprecedented pressure on the Beaver Hills landscape.

Printable biosphere map sign (3.3 MB)

Planning and Development Services
Phone: 780-464-8080
Fax: 780-464-8142
Email: planninganddevelopment@strathcona.ca

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Last updated: Friday, May 26, 2023
Page ID: 37777