What is the urban Primary Land and Vegetation Inventory (uPLVI)?

At its most basic, the uPLVI is a spatial database that divides the City of Edmonton – including a 3.2km buffer – into what is vegetated and what is not.
The data does not include zoning designations or land ownership information. It simply indicates what is on the ground – vegetation wise – at a certain point in time (2015 data can be downloaded from here).
The interactive map has the greatest detail (i.e. more polygons) in those parts of the city that are covered by natural vegetation. This is because the City’s other land use planning datasets (e.g. zoning, ownership, Yeg tree, etc.) already provides information on what is happening in the more developed portions of the City. The uPLVI was designed to develop an understanding of what is happening in the less developed areas of the city.

uPLVI Objectives

Land-cover inventories such as the uPLVI provide critical standardized baseline information that is important to informing urban land use decisions and conservation initiatives.
Following on the Province of Alberta’s vegetation inventories, the uPLVI is an ecological information tool that has been designed to:
  1. Maintain a land cover inventory that is replicable and utilizes standards and protocols adopted by natural resource practitioners;
  2. Map natural and semi-natural areas as well as areas of anthropogenic use within the Edmonton region that can be modified and updated over time; and
  3. Provide a framework that, if built upon, could assist in land use planning for the broader Capital Region of Alberta, Canada.

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uPLVI Methodology

The uPLVI is based on the Provincial Primary Land and Vegetation Inventory (PLVI) framework. However, the uPLVI has been tailored to fit the needs of municipalities by incorporating eleven (11) new urban site types and the opportunity to increase mapping detail at each stage of the land use planning process.
A “Softcopy” inventory process was used to capture land use features through the use of stereoscopic aerial photography that was put through a series of advanced computer manipulations and converted into digital models that are geometrically correct (i.e. they represent the surface of the earth).  The digital photographs were then viewed on-screen in three-dimension (3D) and features were drawn and described in a spatial database.
The use of this softcopy inventory process enabled the City to:
  1. Interpret finer scales of imagery than we have been able to be achieve in the past;
  2. Complete city-wide vegetation mapping in a cost effective manner; and
3. Enable future integration with other information sources such as Li-DAR or other Alberta Vegetation Inventory data in a seamless and effortless way.
More information that describes the processes and specifications used to conduct an urban Primary Land and Vegetation Inventory (uPLVI) for the City of Edmonton can be found here.

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uPLVI link to policy

The City of Edmonton’s highest legislated plan that directs how we are to shape our City (The Way We Grow) identifies one of the City’s nine strategic goals as “Edmonton protects, preserves, and enhances its natural environment by maintaining the integrity and interconnectivity of its natural areas, river valley, water resources, parks and open spaces, recognizing that these elements for a functioning ecological network within the Capital Region.” 
This strategic goal is implemented under the direction of the following plans that have a focus on protecting and sustaining Edmonton’s natural system: 

These plans, and the direction provided from The Way We Grow, are further supported by the City’s Natural Area Systems Policy C531. The uPLVI framework was designed specifically to assist the City in ensuring that the following council directions outlined in policy C531 can be achieved:
  • Conserve, protect, and restore biodiversity throughout Edmonton recognizing the urban context that we work within;
  • Ensure consistent, uniform and equitable conservation practices that are based on the best available science;
  • City administration is to:
    • plan our city so that our ecological systems will function effectively at neighbourhood, city and regional scales,
    • conserve natural area systems in discharging their duties, and
    • require ecological information to support planning and development applications.
Recognizing the direction above, and that Alberta’s Capital region plays an important role in managing for regional connectivity and maintaining local biodiversity, the uPLVI framework was designed to positively impact:
  • Land by establishing a standardized baseline that can inform urban land use decisions and conservation initiatives. The inventory model has been designed to capture more detailed information at every step in the municipal land use planning process. 
  • Water by identification of all classes of wetlands which, in conjunction with the Alberta Wetland policy, will help inform wetland protection and mitigation planning. The framework is customized to enable mapping of wetlands in two wetland classification systems.
  • Biodiversity by identifying species rich areas and vegetation community types that are underrepresented in Edmonton’s protected ecological network.
  • Habitat by identifying areas for restoration to improve ecological linkages and by creating a monitoring system that will help manage the risks of a changing climate and land use impacts.