Parks Canada


  • To provide a yearly measurement of wetlands in the delta
  • To determine what areas of the delta are covered by open water, emergent vegetation (vegetation over water) or dry land.


  • Remote sensing (satellite) images from space are used to detect the three classes of ground cover (open water, flooded vegetation and dry ground) within the delta.
  • Park staff also visit numerous sites in the delta at roughly the same time as the satellite images are collected to report what is seen on the ground. This is called ground truthing.
  • Comparing the ground truthing results with the satellite images makes it possible to check the accuracy of the remote sensing approach and increase the value of the information gathered.


The entire Peace-Athabasca Delta, covering approx. 5,000 square kilometres. This includes the portions of the delta located within Wood Buffalo National Park, as well as the portions that are located in Alberta or on First Nation reserves at the mouth of the Athabasca River.


The satellite images have been collected and classified almost yearly since 1996. Environment Canada staff initiated the project and since 2006 Parks Canada staff have included the approach in an annual monitoring program. Ideally the images would be collected in spring, mid summer and fall to track the annual pulse of flooding that can occur in spring or mid-summer when river levels peak.

Project Lead:

John McKinnon
Ecosystem Geomatics Technician
Wood Buffalo National Park
Parks Canada Agency
Box 750 Fort Smith NT X0E 0P0

Phone: 867-872-7934
Email: john.mckinnon@pc.gc.ca