Zoning is an important tool in management planning. It allows specific areas in a site to be managed differently than the land base as a whole.
An activity that is allowed by a site's classification may not be appropriate across its entire land base.
- Lands and waters in individual parks can be zoned to provide optimum preservation of natural heritage values. These areas exclude public access to protect fragile and vulnerable ecosystems and sensitive, rare and endangered species.
- Other areas can accommodate and/or enhance heritage appreciation, outdoor recreation and heritage tourism opportunities and facilities.
- Existing land-use commitments in a site can also be accounted for through zoning.
Seven land use zones are currently used in management planning for parks in Alberta.
- Applied to landscapes where preservation of natural heritage values takes precedence over all other uses
- Lands and waters managed so natural heritage values and ecological processes remain largely unaltered
- Often used in wildland provincial parks and provincial parks
- Example - restricted area in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park where visitors can enter only when accompanied by staff
- Encompasses extensive natural landscapes capable of supporting wilderness recreation
- Preservation of natural heritage values the main consideration
- Management guidelines focused on sustaining or enhancing wilderness recreation opportunities
- Resource management and controls on use consistent with maintaining long-term ecological integrity
- Visitor numbers regulated as required to meet management objectives
- Motorized use prohibited
- Development limited to primitive facilities appropriate to a wilderness experience (trails, backcountry campsites, etc)
- Education and interpretive programs normally provided off-site
Natural Environment Zone
- Provides opportunities for appreciation and enjoyment of natural heritage values through outdoor recreation, education and interpretive opportunities/programs
- Activities that bring visitors into close contact with nature encouraged (walk-in camping, hiking, cross-country skiing, nature appreciation programs, etc)
- Possible interpretation and education services include self-guided trails, displays and guided programs
- Provincial parks - much of the landbase zoned "natural environment"
- Wildland provincial parks - zone applied to areas where traditional grazing is part of ongoing management regime (reflecting emphasis on providing wildland recreation opportunities)
Visitor Services & Facility Zone
- Provides safe and convenient access to outdoor recreation opportunities
- Accommodates major transportation routes through a site
- May be applied to existing highway and pipeline corridors
- Possible facilities include major access routes, parking areas, small picnic facilities and small staging areas
- Staging areas for wildland provincial parks
- May include vehicle access campgrounds (limited to basic facilities)
- Size determined by the recreational opportunities available
- Applied in wildland provincial parks where motorized use is accommodated on designated routes
- Could include information, interpretation and education programs orienting the public to facilities, services, recreational opportunities and management objectives for a site
Integrated Management Zone
- Applied only in provincial recreation areas
- Includes lands in a provincial recreation area where activities such as improved grazing take place
- Petroleum and natural gas exploration and development are normally permitted
- Industrial activities
- Carried out in accordance with defined management guidelines
- Directed toward improving outdoor recreation opportunities where possible
- Recreational use permitted if it does not conflict with resource industries
- Use of off-highway vehicles may be accommodated either randomly or on designated routes
- Education and interpretive programs may be provided to explain the effects of resource use on the environment
- Facilities generally limited to trails and signs
- Not normally applied to individual oil and gas wells or small industrial installations (identified as non-conforming uses in other zones)