Ecological Infrastructure Mapping - Southern Alberta
An assessment of ecosystem goods and services (EGS) in southern Alberta was initiated in 2006 by Alberta Environment. Ecosystem services are the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life (Daily 1997). The current study builds on the first two project phases by expanding the discussion of landscape patterns required to sustain the provision of ecosystem goods and services based on an identification of ecological infrastructure in the Southern Alberta region. Ecological infrastructure refers to the core features of a network that provides ecosystem services (Tzoulas et al. 2007): in this case, in the Southern Alberta region. At a regional scale, it includes the system of structural and functional terrestrial and aquatic landscape features such as clean water and habitat (Quinn, unpublished work, 2007). Components of ecological infrastructure chosen for mapping in the scope and scale of the current project include: 1. Stream corridors 2. Natural vegetation patches and stepping stones 3. Waterbody complexes 4. Areas of high species richness potential 5. Alluvial soils 6. Unique land cover types or areas GIS models were created in ArcGIS 9.2 to support the identification and mapping of ecological infrastructure components. The stream corridors map showed a high density of stream corridors in the forested landscapes to the west and southeast; very few corridors exist in the central Southern Alberta region. The largest patches of natural vegetation over 10 000 ha in size are located in the southeast and northeast. The central part of Southern Alberta has few large patches of natural vegetation, and those that remain in this area will be regionally valuable. The greatest concentration of waterbody complexes is in the northeast portion of Southern Alberta, which has a number of small complexes of standing water. When the top five classes (highest 50%) of species rich areas were selected, grasslands, forests, riparian areas and wetland cover types were picked out. Alluvial soils were found to be concentrated near the base of the Rocky Mountains along the western border of Southern Alberta. Unique land cover types including ridges and low percentage cover types were mapped, but ridges were difficult to analyze at this scale. A combined map of all ecological infrastructure components was created in which each pixel was assigned a sum value of each ecological infrastructure component it included. The high value of several landscape units to overall regional ecological infrastructure was evident. To identify the areas of coincidence between ecological infrastructure and a spatial representation of ecosystem services in the region, the ecological infrastructure was analyzed against a map representing areas with high importance to the provision of ecosystem services. O2 Planning + Design Inc. – DRAFT ii The ecological infrastructure was found to encompass 99.6% of all areas identified as high ecosystem service provision. In terms of the condition of ecosystem services, those areas of high service provision that are coincident with ecological infrastructure are most likely to be in good condition through landscape connections and within large natural patches that promote functioning ecological processes. For future application, each component of ecological infrastructure can be mapped on smaller scales, depending on the desired objectives. These processes and models can therefore support informed land use planning in the region.
02 Planning + Design Inc.
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.
Ecosystem Services Approach Pilot on Wetlands Wetland
Ecosystem Services Protocol for the United States
(WESPUS) Site Assessments
The Wetland Ecosystem Services Protocol for the United States (WESPUS) was highlighted by Alberta Environment as a method with the potential to help address identified gaps in the current regulatory context surrounding wetlands. This assessment was conducted for Alberta Environment by the Biophysical Team for the Wetland Ecosystem Services Pilot project in the Shepard Slough area east of Calgary, with the work being led and coordinated by O2 Planning + Design Inc. (O2). The intention of the WESPUS component of the pilot study was to identify the potential applicability of WESPUS in the context of Alberta’s biophysical and regulatory landscapes. The purpose of the WESPUS component was to learn more about the WESPUS method, apply it using field assessments across a range of sites within the pilot study area, and to provide recommendations and strategies for moving forward in terms of potentially informing provincial policy and regulatory processes. After a series of trial site assessments and data analysis, the following recommendations and strategies were among those provided: use caution when making inferences and correlations with Steward and Kantrud wetlands classes, as all classes appear to serve many ecosystem services compare relative values of ecosystem function with a socio-economic evaluation of wetlands function identify the differences in effectiveness and values of constructed wetlands based on their designated purpose potentially use this tool to evaluate whether the pre-disturbance function of the compensated wetland has been effectively replaced post construction consider how to address wetland numbers vs. wetland area. For example, if eight 1 ha wetlands are disturbed and replaced with one 8 ha wetland, it may not address the replacement of the original wetlands’ function request that Dr. Paul Adamus make some adjustments to amend the WESPUS tool for the Alberta context and that some references are added to assist the field surveyor initiate further research projects to strengthen the empirical data for Wetlands Ecosystem Services and to assist regulators in making approval decisions (e.g., conduct trials for boreal peatland applications) The ability of WESPUS to address the gaps and weaknesses in the approval process based on the findings of the site assessments are discussed as well. For example: WESPUS has the ability to inform what types of functions and related ecosystem services a wetland provides. It can also provide objective information on the values and functions of small and temporary wetlands which are often written off as unimportant when compared to large and visually appealing wetlands with permanent open water zones. This tool can provide some evidence to support avoidance, mitigation and compensation decisions on wetlands. Applying WESPUS in the context of individual applications for wetland disturbance may improve cumulative effects management over time by moving towards greater maintenance of wetland functions and services as opposed to simply wetland acreage under a no net loss policy. Further investigation is required to determine how to make WESPUS compatible with a cumulative effects management system. A standardized protocol such as WESPUS does allow for a quantifiable and objective approach in communicating the value of wetlands. An evaluation tool such as WESPUS could be used province-wide to evaluate the function and value of all types of wetlands and help inform reclamation planning or compensation efforts.
02 Planning + Design Inc.
CUMULATIVE EFFECTS THRESHOLDS FOR ARCTIC GRAYLING
IN THE WAPITI RIVER
Intensity and types of land use have changed rapidly in the last century and in north-western Alberta this has coincided with the decline of Wapiti River watershed Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) populations. Data on diurnal dissolved oxygen (DO), chemical and physical stream habitat data were collected in nine sub-watersheds of the Wapiti River with historically abundant Arctic Grayling populations. Levels and fluctuations of DO and temperature were related to the status of populations; five of the nine streams had higher temperatures and lower DO during summer, anoxic conditions during winter and extirpated populations. Amount of disturbed land and road density within sub-watersheds were inversely related to DO levels and population status. Cumulative effects modelling suggests a possible mechanism for these relationships is increased phosphorous runoff, leading to impaired habitat. These relationships and thresholds may be used as a management tool to maintain or restore Arctic Grayling and other stream fishes.
Adam Paul Norris
A Policy for Resource Management of the Eastern Slopes
Management in the Eastern Slopes, past and present, and a framework of provincial natural resource goals.
Alberta Energy and Natural Resources
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
Land Advocate: News for Canadians living with oil and
A democratic voice for landowners and the land. An advocate for more 100,000 farmers, ranchers and landowners in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. We'll separate the oil from the gas to give you the best and most informed perspective on what's right and what's wrong in the oil patch.
Forest Road Sediment and Drainage Monitoring Project
Report for Private and State Lands in Western Oregon
This is the second report completed as part of a four-year project to investigate the effectiveness of forest road drainage practices designed to minimize sediment delivery to streams. This investigation is expected to yield a list of recommended road drainage and construction practices for private and public forest land managers and agencies that regulate forest management activities in western Oregon. This report summarizes data collected during the summer and fall of 1995 and 1996, years two and three of this project. Road drainage and sediment delivery data were analyzed in a regional context, as well as broken into categories based on best management practices (BMP’s). A final technical paper will be produced at the end of this project.
Arne Skaugset and Marganne M. Allen
Chief Mountain Cumulative Effects Study
The Chief Mountain Study attempts to balance the perspectives of different stakeholders in the area and is based on the premise that all land uses examined provide economic benefits, but these benefits may have associated environmental liabilities, such as impacts on surface and groundwater or the loss of natural biodiversity. It also recognizes some liabilities may be minor by themselves, but have more serious cumulative effects. The study attempts to identify potentially conflicting land use trends and to show that even the decisions of individuals can have beneficial or negative consequences.
Barry Wilson and Mark Hudson
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