Ecosystem Goods and Services Southern Alberta: A
Framework for Assessing Natural Asset Condition
Society’s well-being, to a large extent, is underpinned by a wide range of Ecosystem Goods and Services (EGS) that are provided by natural assets. These include: provision of clean air and water;-- water storage and flood control;-- carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas regulation;-- pollination of crops and native vegetation; and-- the fulfillment of cultural, spiritual, and recreational needs.-- The transfer of EGS to future generations is compromised if land use planning does not prevent the degradation and loss of natural assets in the landscape. Alberta’s new Land Use Framework (LUF) provides opportunities to address interactions between society, nature, and EGS to promote sustainable development. The ecosystem services concept frames land use planning and natural resource management issues to explicitly link ecosystems and human welfare. This provides decision makers with more information to help them achieve an appropriate balance between the many costs and benefits of land use decision-making. Building on previous work, this report contributes to this process by identifying indicators of natural asset conditions, linking these indicators to ecosystem services, and suggesting a methodology for assessment in a land use planning context. Several key findings should be highlighted from the literature review. One prevalent theme suggests that focusing management efforts on provisioning services (i.e., crops, timber, fossil fuels) often results in tradeoffs where other ecosystem services are degraded as a consequence. Another key theme is the importance of multi-scale approaches to ecosystem service assessments (e.g., regional, landscape, watershed, site). A third key finding is the lack of available biophysical methodologies to quantify ecosystem service magnitudes, as most quantification studies utilize economic valuation techniques. In addition, appropriate thresholds and targets are rarely identified through scientific research, although some science-based targets have been identified for wetland cover (3% to 7% of a watershed), impervious surfaces (<10% of a watershed), riparian buffer widths, and road densities. In most cases, target-setting requires integration of science and societal valuation. The landscape context also must be considered when setting targets, as appropriate values often vary considerably throughout a given region. Building on the information gained from the literature review, this report identifies a suite of indicators to assess ecosystem conditions and related services at multiple scales. Six criteria were used to assess the suitability of indicators: comprehensibility for both professionals and the lay public; -- range of applicability to multiple ecosystem services;-- responsiveness to management practices; -- measurability of cost effectiveness; -- ease of integration with existing programs and data; and, -- relevance within land use planning (predictable in scenario modelling --and related to published scientific thresholds).
02 Planning + Design Inc.
A Method for Measuring Sediment Production from Forest
Predicting sediment production from forest roads is necessary to determine their impact on watersheds and associated terrestrial and stream biota. A method is presented for measuring sediment originating from a road segment for individual storm events and quantifying the delivery to streams. Site selection criteria are listed to describe the characteristics for efficient data collection and analysis. The method describes equipment used to quantify sediment transport—data loggers, a rain gage, a traffic counter, Parshall flumes with stilling wells, hydrostatic pressure transducers, and water pumping samplers—as well as variables associated with sediment production—road surfacing material, traffic intensity, gradient, age, construction method, and precipitation. A sampling protocol that worked well for the forest roads in southeast Alaska and can be adapted for use in other regions also is described. Examples of data collection and analysis are explained both for sites near the road and downstream sites for sediment delivery quantification. This method can be used to determine the downstream transport of sediment originating from roads and developing regression models or validating existing sediment models.
Energy and the Alberta Economy: Past and Future Impacts
Alberta is in many respects at a crossroads. On the one hand complacency will almost certainly mean a dimming of the province’s long-term prosperity. Declines in the conventional oil and gas sector will significantly dampen growth and prosperity. There are no other sectors of the province’s economic base that could realistically expand sufficiently to offset significant declines in the dominant energy sector. On the other hand, visionary, strategic investments today can unlock non-conventional and other energy resources critical to securing a strong and prosperous long-term, sustainable future for the province. It is in this context that ISEEE has undertaken a series of papers focused on Alberta’s energy futures. The intent is to take a longer term look at the challenges, opportunities and choices and what they mean for Alberta’s future. This first paper provides both a retrospective and a prospective overview of the impacts of the oil and gas sector. It is intended to frame and highlight the longer term issues and provide an anchor for more detailed analysis in subsequent papers.
Robert L. Mansell, Ron Schlenker
Application of a GIS for simulating hydrological
responses in developing regions
Present capturing, processing and manipulation of spatial data and information as well as coupling processes between the ARC/INFO GIS and the ACRU HMS (Agricultural Catchment Research Unit) is demonstrated for the Mgeni basin in Natal, South Africa.
Stefan W. Kienzle
Alberta By Design: A Blueprint for an Effective
Alberta is at a turning point with respect to land and resource management. There is a broad consensus among Albertans familiar with land-use issues in the province that the current system of planning and decision-making urgently needs an overhaul. This report, by the Pembina Institute and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, presents a practical and solutions- oriented blueprint for a new Land-Use Framework.
Steve Kennett and Rick Schneider
Alberta Traffic Collision Statistics
The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why”, and “how” of traffic collisions which occurred in Alberta during 2010. Although the report is general in nature, it pays particular attention to casualty collisions, that is, those collisions which result in death or injury. Legislation in Alberta requires that a traffic collision, which results in either death, injury or property damage to an apparent extent of $1000.00 or more, be reported immediately to an authorized peace officer. The officer completes a standardized collision report form which provides information on various aspects of the traffic collision. This report is based on the data collected from these report forms. The collision report form is issued with standard instructions to every police service within Alberta, to be completed by the officer attending the scene of a motor vehicle collision or at a police station. Police priorities at the scene of a collision are to care for the injured, protect the motoring public and clear the roadway. Completion of the collision report form is a secondary, but necessary task. After completion, the information on the collision report form is coded for input to computer files. The Alberta Collision Information System, which has been operational since 1978, undergoes several manual and computerized inspections each year in order to ensure maximum accuracy of the final data output. This collision information is used to make Alberta’s roads safer for all road users. Due to continuing police investigation, some numbers presented in this report may be subject to revision. It should also be noted that not all percentage columns will total 100 due to rounding error. This report was produced based on collisions reported to Alberta Transportation by police, at the time of printing. The numbers presented in this report will not be updated. However, the patterns and trends detailed in this report represent an accurate description of Alberta’s traffic collision picture.
Alberta Transportation Office of Traffic Safety
Collisions between Wildlife and Vehicles in Alberta
RESPONSE OF A WINTERING MOOSE POPULATION TO ACCESS
MANAGEMENT AND NO HUNTING – A MANITOBA EXPERIMENT
We report on an experiment undertaken in eastern Manitoba beginning in 1996, in which a moose population wintering in 62 km2 (24.2 mi2)was protected from hunting until September 2003. At the time of closure, it is speculated that about 37 (0.6/km2 (1.5/mi2)) moose wintered in the area based on aerial surveys and considering visibility bias. The closure was supported by the Eastern Region Committee for Moose Management, which is comprised of Manitoba Conservation staff, First Nation representatives from local communities, local hunting organizations, and other interest groups such as Tembec Manitoba Incorporated and the Manitoba Model Forest. Road access to the area was curtailed by using locked gates, millstones, and V-plowing a portion of the road in 2002. The area was surveyed from a helicopter on March 4, 2003, and 107 moose were counted in the closed area and again, based on visibility bias, it is speculated that about 142 moose (2.3/km2 (5.8/mi2 )) were present. This experiment clearly demonstrates that moose will respond positively to access management and no hunting, and that V-plowing roadbeds is a useful technique for controlling access. The cost associated with such plowing varies from about $500-$1,500/km depending on material contained in the roadbed.
Vince Crichton, Trevor Barker, and Doug Schindler
Development of a Threshold Approach for Assessing
Industrial Impacts on Woodland Caribou in Yukon
To date, no jurisdiction in Canada has established, implemented and enforced cumulative effects thresholds for industrial activity in woodland caribou range. Instead, guidelines and regulations have been put in place in an attempt to minimize and mitigate the impacts of individual development projects on caribou. Under this system of management, many caribou populations throughout the provinces are either the focus of concern or have been extirpated from former ranges. In some situations, caribou ranges have already been severely impacted and will require a great deal of effort, financial resources, and political will to return habitat effectiveness to an acceptable level. Yukon has a unique opportunity to develop and implement cumulative effects thresholds for caribou range prior to large-scale industrial development over significant areas. This must be initiated now if Yukon wishes to have healthy caribou populations in perpetuity. The current report is intended to assess potential threshold approaches and recommend a methodology for setting industrial thresholds for woodland caribou range in Yukon. The criteria for recommending a threshold development strategy was that it: 1) be directly relevant to caribou ecology, 2) truly assess cumulative effects of known human influences on caribou, 3) be able to suggest a clear threshold, and 4) be usable and acceptable by a wide range of stakeholders. Based on a literature review, experience from other jurisdictions, and consideration of the Yukon situation, it was concluded that the most appropriate method for developing cumulative effects thresholds for Yukon caribou range was the habitat effectiveness approach, whether it be based on a full habitat effectiveness model or simply a total zone of influence. This approach addresses the influence of industrial activity on caribou ecology, includes cumulative effects from several disturbance types, can be related to clear thresholds, and generally meets the criteria of being usable and acceptable by a wide range of stakeholders. Although habitat effectiveness calculations incorporate, in a general sense, the importance of human features in changing mortality rates due to humans and other predators, and the effects of spatial distribution of harvest on caribou habitat effectiveness, there are obvious limitations to this relatively simple threshold approach. Range-specific factors, such as predator density, or distance to human settlements, may influence caribou recruitment and survival differently, despite ranges having similar habitat effectiveness values. Despite these limitations, setting of thresholds represents a risk management exercise for development of industrial activity in caribou range, and is a more defensible management technique than the alternative approaches (projectspecific mitigation strategies), which have largely failed in other jurisdictions Most elements required for the development and implementation of the habitat effectiveness approach within Yukon already exist. The data required to set a threshold for Yukon caribou range are either already in existence, or could be acquired in a timely fashion. The technical expertise and technological resources required to implement thresholds currently exist in Yukon and are fully capable of developing the tools needed to assess proposed projects and undertake long-term range planning. The coordination of these activities among government agencies and existing management structures will be the greatest challenge to implementing a threshold approach for Yukon.
Robert B. Anderson, M.Sc., P.Biol., R.B.Bio. Simon J. Dyer, M.Sc., P.Biol. Shawn R. Francis, M.Sc.,
Models and Data: What are they saying about cumulative
effects on wildlife species important to the community
of Fort McKay
Wildlife is an integral part of the Fort McKay’s culture. Since the start of development (late 1960s) there has been a transformation of traditional lands from boreal forest and wetlands into oil sands development (open pit mines, in situ operations, and associated infrastructure). The environmental impact assessments (EIAs) prepared by oil sands operators and proponents repeatedly claim that these developments will have little impact on wildlife populations and their habitats because reclamation will return the land to a productive state. Fort McKay Community members are skeptical of future reclamation success and believe that development already has negatively impacted certain wildlife populations. The Fort McKay also has concerns about the project by project review process and the assessment of cumulative effects. This report provides brief summaries of studies that show cumulative effects on wildlife important to the Fort McKay. This report also presents wildlife data from EIAs and the findings of a recent study on wildlife habitat models used in the oil sands region. Four wildlife species; moose, beaver, fisher/marten, and Canada lynx are emphasized because of their cultural importance. The moose and beaver are considered Cultural Keystone species for the Fort McKay Community (Garibaldi 2006). Canada lynx, fisher, and marten are furbearers vital to the Fort McKay’s traditional economy. Fisher and marten are lumped together because of the difficultly in differentiating their snow tracks in the field. Sources of information for this report are as follows: Results of the Fort McKay Specific Assessment (FMSA); Results of modeling completed for the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) and Terrestrial Ecosystem Management Framework (TEMF); Aerial surveys completed by the Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD); Wildlife data collected in the oil sands region in support of environmental impact assessments; Population viability analysis (PVA) modelling reports completed in the oil sands region; and Analysis of habitat models used in the oil sands region completed by CEMA. In 2011, 1.7 million barrels of bitumen were produced in the oil sands region of Alberta. This quantity is expected to reach 3.5 million barrels per day by 2020 (Alberta Government 2012). We summarize modeling results that predict impacts from oil sands development. We also provide information that shows how the present project by project EIA process is failing to assess cumulative effects on wildlife. We provide recommendations that will reduce impacts and allow for the future recovery of wildlife in the Fort McKay’s Traditional Territory.
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