Biodiversity conservation requires rapid and efficient access to information on elements of biodiversity. This is especially true given the increasing pace of land use and resource development. Careful stewardship of natural areas requires detailed knowledge of significant biological features.
Alberta's natural heritage database was established in 1996. It was originally called the Alberta Natural Heritage Information Centre (ANHIC). It was created as a partnership with Alberta Tourism, Parks & Recreation, Parks Canada and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to address the need for credible data for protected areas planning and management. Now called the Alberta Conservation Information Management System, ACIMS is an integral part of Parks Division and is a member program of NatureServe and NatureServe Canada.
Alberta Conservation Information Management System (ACIMS):
- is a biodiversity data centre that provides accurate and accessible biodiversity information necessary for making informed decisions concerning conservation, natural resource management and development planning;
- collects, continually updates, analyzes and disseminates information about the location, condition, status and trends of selected elements, including species and ecological communities, using NatureServe methodology;
- is one of over 80 natural heritage data centres in the international NatureServe network;
- is housed in Parks Division (Alberta Environment & Parks) which runs day-to-day operations; and
- is a key contributor to information assisting development and management of protected areas in Alberta.
What ACIMS Does
ACIMS collects, analyzes and disseminates information on elements of natural biological and physical diversity.
- Species (or infraspecific taxa) and other non-taxonomic biological entities (e.g.,migratory species aggregation areas) are one of the two main types of biological elements for which ACIMS collects data.
- Ecological communities are the other main type of biological elements for which ACIMS collects data.
- Landform elements are units of natural physical diversity as developed by ACIMS.
Biological elements are ranked and those that current information suggests are rare or of conservation concern for other reasons are put onto tracking and watch lists.Additional information, such as location and condition, is collected for tracked and watched elements and locations for tracked elements are mapped in a Geographic Information System (GIS).
All conservation data centres in the NatureServe network use a common vocabulary of terms and concepts:
- elements of biodiversity - plant and animal species, infraspecies, ecological communities and other non-taxonomic biological entities (e.g. migratory species aggregation areas)
- element occurrences - specific locations of those elements on the landscape
- existing managed areas - like parks, protected areas
- sources of additional information
NatureServe methodology also provides many standards for collection, interpretation and dissemination of information about biodiversity. These include:
- standards in element taxonomy and nomenclature;
- criteria for element global and sub-national ranking;
- specifications for identifying and mapping valid element occurrences; and
- methods for evaluating the biodiversity significance of sites.
These standards make it possible for data centres throughout the world to exchange data in an efficient manner.
- To help government agencies and conservation groups identify critical areas in need of protection
- To support the establishment of conservation priorities locally, regionally, nationally and globally
- To assist developers, government agencies and conservation groups design and implement ecologically sound development projects
Natural Resource and Protected Area Management
- To support improved management practices for natural areas to sustain ecosystems and significant biological features
Research and Education
- To guide new basic and applied scientific research
- To be an important resource for long-term environmental monitoring and public education
Alberta Environment and Parks
Alberta Conservation Information Management System
11th Floor, Oxbridge Place
9820 106 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T5K 2J6