The Alberta government is releasing its long-awaited policy on protecting wetlands in the face of heavy development pressure, especially in the oilsands.

The policy would assign greater value to some types of wetlands than others and would encourage developers to avoid their destruction.

Where that's not possible, developers could create new wetlands as replacements or pay into a fund to preserve and improve other such areas elsewhere in the province.

Alberta has been developing the plan for seven years.

An earlier version was torpedoed after complaints from mining and energy interests, who objected to its focus on no net loss of wetlands.

Wetlands are considered environmentally vital because they filter run-off, buffer floodwaters and provide highly diverse habitat for a range of plants, birds and other animals.