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About The Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve

The Beaver Hills, an area just 20 minutes East of Sherwood Park and Edmonton, was designated as a Biosphere on March 19, 2016 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This designation provides global recognition of the community’s commitment to conservation and sustainable development.

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO Press Release reads in part as follows:

“ OTTAWA, March 21, 2016 – Tsá-Tué (Northwest Territories) and the Beaver Hills (Alberta) have been designated as biosphere reserves by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Currently, the Canadian Biosphere Reserves network consists of 18 sites distributed over nine provinces and territories. Biosphere reserves are recognized under UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme as ecologically significant regions that promote sustainability and conservation by engaging all community stakeholders and supporting research and monitoring.”



The Beaver Hills/Cooking Lake Moraine is a geophysical feature that was created by glaciation more than 10,000 years ago.

The area encompasses 1572 km2 (607 mi2) across 5 counties and is essentially an island of boreal mixed-wood forest within the Aspen Parkland Natural Region of Alberta.

The “knob and kettle” terrain of the moraine forms a patchwork of depressional areas, many of which support wetlands, small lakes and streams. The moraine as a whole is able to act as a groundwater recharge area, as few of the wetlands or lakes actually have outflows.

A number of provincially rare plants and wildlife species occur within the Beaver Hills area, and are clustered in a band between the Elk Island National Park and Miquelon Provincial Park.

The abundant forests and wetlands of the Beaver Hills serve as a large carbon sink that, regionally, can counter the CO2 emissions from the adjacent urban and industrial areas.

Unfortunatrely, the last several years of draught have reduced the amount of water in many of these shallow wetlands and lakes.

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