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Member Profile: Amanda Cooper

Oct 05, 2018

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Environmental Protection Officer
Wetland Specialist
Local 012

Spend a few minutes talking to Amanda Cooper about Alberta''s wetlands and the passion she has for her work becomes unmistakable.

"I just love wetlands. They''re amazing - they give us so much, and they are such a peaceful place," says Cooper, an Environmental Protection Officer and Wetland Specialist for the Government of Alberta.

As one of Alberta''s five wetland specialists, she is responsible for implementing and ensuring compliance on the government''s wetlands policy.

"Wetlands are underappreciated, undervalued, and misunderstood," she says. But since the policy was introduced in 2013, those attitudes are starting to change.

Before then, Alberta was draining and ditching wetlands in favour of farmland and to make room for new development. As a result, about 65 per cent of Alberta''s wetlands were lost.

"There was a recognition the policy needed to change," Cooper explains.

"It''s been a total mind shift. Wetlands do so much for us - but there just isn''t that awareness," she adds. "So an important part of my job is education about why wetlands are important, and why we should use them."

Their main function is to filter our water systems, but they also provide important biodiversity, Cooper says as she stops to point out feather moss covering the earth at Wagner Natural Area in Spruce Grove. This particular area boasts more than a dozen orchid species, along with indigenous medicines, wild berries and edible mushrooms.

That''s why she takes her job as an enforcement officer so seriously.

"We need wetlands. They do so much for us, and they''ve taken thousands of years to form," she says. "When you dig into the soil, you''re looking into history and we have to protect that."

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