There are six "Natural Regions" in
Alberta: the Canadian Shield , the Boreal Forest, the
Foothills, the Rocky Mountains, the Parkland, and the
Grassland. Natural Regions are areas of land
characterized by their animal and
The Boreal Forest
Natural Region is the largest in Alberta. It
consists of broad lowland plains and extensive hill
systems, and may also be referred to as the
Forest or the Taiga. The landscape is covered almost entirely by
trees, with aspen and balsam poplar dominating the
A subtle mosaic of
aspen woodlands, fescue grasslands, shrub lands and
wetlands make up the Parkland Region. Situated on
the gently rolling landscape in central Alberta, it is
the most densely populated region in the province.
The Grassland Natural Region occupies
a broad area of southern Alberta and extends west to the
Rocky Mountains and north to the southern edge of
Parkland Natural Region in central Alberta. The
region is a flat to gently rolling plain with a few
major hill systems.
The Canadian Shield makes up nearly
half of Canada's total area and is composed of
Precambrian rocks—ancient, rounded rocks that form the
nucleus of most of North America. The Shield stretches
into the very northeast corner of Alberta. Numerous bare areas of
rock, abundant angular lakes, marshy depressions,
and a highly disorganized drainage system characterize
the Canadian Shield region of the province. Jack pine
forests cover isolated spots of the region with a unique
undergrowth of pale reindeer lichens, dusty green sage
Most Albertans are familiar with the
Lower Foothill regions of their province adjacent to
Rocky Mountains, which together with the Rockies,
are commonly referred to as the Eastern Slopes.
Comprised of flat-topped hills that rise 300 to 600
metres above the surrounding lowlands, the Foothills are
a region of majestic beauty. The Foothill
region however, also covers a large area northwest of
the town of Peace River, extending from the Eastern
Slopes northeast to the Swan Hills.
The Rocky Mountain region of Alberta
covers over half of the province's western border.
Largely due to the width and variety of the mountain
terrain, the Rocky Mountain Natural Region includes a series of topographically diverse conditions that
produce a unique association of plants and animals, many
not found anywhere else in the province.
Each Natural Region comprises several
subregions. Subregions are distinguished by differences
in climate, soils and vegetation.