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Assessments & Inventories

 Strengths of Field-based Riparian Health

Assessments and Inventories:

  • Allows for more rapid assessment of site specific changes (natural or human caused) due to the method's high level of detail

  • Pairs well with on-the-ground management or restoration

  • Informs local landowners and and allows for site-specific management actions

To see photo examples of each of the
health categories, click here:




Field Based Assessment woman in

These on-the-ground assessments give a quick sense of what landowners and others managing land are looking for when looking at riparian health. The area is scored according to the amount of:

  • Area covered by any plant species, cattails and bulrushes, and woody plants (and signs of browsing or new growth)

  • Plant community alterations (e.g. removal of woody plants or replacement by invasive or disturbance species)

  • Deep-binding roots on the banks

  • Water level altered by human means

  • Human alteration via bare ground or changes to the physical site (including banks)

  • Erosion of the bed of the stream channel


A more thorough inventory which allows resource management professionals to capture specific changes over time. These include:

  • All details in the Riparian Health Assessment

  • Detailed plant species and community structure

  • Materials that make up the bank and bed (eg. clay, silt, rocks)

  • Kinds and causes of human impacts

  • The influence of water on the site

Outcomes of Riparian Assessment & Inventories:

  • Establishes benchmark data for future monitoring

  • Provides a basis for recommendations on management and restoration

  • Motivates change for landowners

  • Enables evaluation impact of management changes over time

Cows and Fish began conducting riparian health assessments and inventories associated with streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands in Alberta in 1995.

For more details about doing a riparian health assessment or a riparian health inventory, please visit Cows and Fish’s website at

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