20 The Professionals

Being a professional is a state of mind, education, and experience.  As professionals we need to conduct our work with a sense of ethics, including understanding safety issues, regulatory requirements, and applicable standards.  Perhaps though it is more than this.  In provinces and territories being a professional is regulated.  We will examine what is involved for being a professional from the perspective of wetlands in Alberta, but the principles apply anywhere in Canada and to many tasks required under legislation.

Wetlands are regulated in Canada in a complex manner.  As one of the ongoing themes, Canada has some overlapping environmental jurisdictions.  This is true with wetlands.  In Alberta you can find the Alberta official wetland policy at the following website.   It indicates that the following acts are all applicable (Alberta Wetland Policy, 2020).  The following guide is inspired b the Alberta Wetland Policy website but with links to the actual legislation:

    In Alberta, the Wetland Policy was established by Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP).  Under this policy AEP has issued several directives.  One of the key elements to the policy is to establish the value of a wetland that might be impacted by a project.  The wetland must be assessed using a specific tool under the directive.  One of the essential items of the wetland assessment is that it must be signed by an authenticating professional (Alberta Wetland Policy, 2020).

    Authenticating Professional

    So what is an authenticating professional?

    Well that is a great question.  It turns out it is a very specific with the answer depending on where you work.  In Alberta an authenticating professional is a registrant with one of 10 professions that are regulated by the Province of Alberta.  The Wetland Policy mentions specifically biologists and engineers, but we are going to only look at Agrologists (Wetland Policy, n.d.).

    The authenticating professional is registered to an Alberta association that has a requirement to follow a code of conduct or code of ethics, depending on the terminology used by the association.  The authenticating professional must have the experience and competency to complete the task being authenticated.  Under the wetland policy, they describe the specific items that are needed to be consider an authentication professional (Wetland Policy, n.d.).

    One of the key elements is that you must be registered with an Alberta Professional Organization.  So for example a registration for a national certification service, like ECO-Canada, is not regulated provincially and is therefore not eligible to be an authenticating professional unless they are also a member of one of the 10 Alberta regulated associations (ECO Canada, 2021).


    To dig further we will examine the agrology profession, again only in Alberta.  Agrologists are registered to the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (AIA).  The AIA is provincially regulated to the following Acts and regulations (AIA, n.d.):

    The acts and regulations set the conditions for the AIA to regulate the agrology profession with bylaws.  These bylaws set up the requirements for an agrologist to be considered registered and competent.  The requirements include formal education, experience and continuing education (AIA, 2020).

    The AIA has a requirement to declare practice areas.  And if we turn to the topic at hand, the Wetland Authenticating Professional, one of the practice areas is wetland and riparian areas (AIA, 2020).

    Section Conclusion

    Using our example of a wetland assessor in Alberta, an assessor needs to be considered a professional in the area.  This means they must be a member of one of Alberta’s 10 regulated professional organizations.  You must have the experience and competency to complete the work.  If you are an agrologist, you must be registered with the AIA and have a declared area of practice of wetland and riparian Areas (AIA, 2020).

    This is just one qualification as an example.  But it serves to illustrate some of the typical things a regulation may have on your own practice.

    Learning Questions

    • Which professional organization does your degree take you to?
    • What does your professional organization need you to do?
    • If someone was only registered to Eco-Canada could they be an Authenticating Professional?


    Alberta Institute of Agrologists. (2020). Home page. Retrieved from https://www.albertaagrologists.ca/site/home

    Alberta Wetland Policy. (2020). Legislation & Regulations Impacting Alberta’s Wetlands. Retrieved from  http://www.wetlandpolicy.ca/alberta-regulations-and-legislation-impacting-wetlands

    Alberta Wetland Policy. (n.d.). Authenticating professional. Retrieved from http://www.wetlandpolicy.ca/qwsp-qualified-wetland-science-practitioner

    ECO Canada. (n.d.). Home page. Retrieved from https://eco.ca/



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