Assessing the Future Impacts of Conservation and Development in the Mackenzie Watershed

ALCES was applied to explore the long-term impacts of natural resource development to wildlife within the Mackenzie watershed, located in northwestern Canada. The project was completed in collaboration with Dr. Erin Bayne from the University of Alberta. Funding was provided by the Canadian Boreal Initiative. Land use simulations compared a business-as-usual development scenario and a conservation scenario that increased protection and implemented practices to reduce the impact of forestry and energy development. The business-as-usual scenario was predicted to reduce older forest and increase anthropogenic footprint. These simulated landscape transformations caused declines in songbird species such as Canada Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler and Ovenbird, and led to the extirpation of Woodland Caribou. By reducing landscape disturbance, the conservation scenario lessened the predicted impacts to wildlife. Outcomes from the analysis were presented to the Mackenzie Gas Project Joint Review Panel to convey the importance of implementing effective conservation strategies prior to wide-scale development in the region.

Project report published by the Canadian Boreal Initiative, paper presented at Fourth International Partners in Flight Conference