Sahtu Target Implementation Project

Objectives-based management of cumulative effects is a new, innovative approach to integrated land management. There is an emerging consensus that limits on land usebased impacts can help to sustain desired landscape conditions while still achieving economic and social objectives. The selection of explicit targets at a regional level can be used to inform decision making on the regulation and assessment of individual development projects. These socio-economic or ecological targets need to be developed using science, traditional and local knowledge, and social values. The Sahtu Land Use Planning Board is mandated to develop and implement a land use plan for the Sahtu Settlement Area of the Northwest Territories. The Board released a first draft of the Sahtu Land Use Plan in February, 2007. In preparation of the first draft of the Plan, the Board considered many different tools and approaches. Management objectives were thought to be a useful approach, but their implementation was not formally pursued at that time. A November 2007 workshop identified a large degree of support for implementing management targets in the Sahtu Land Use Plan by a wide variety of stakeholders, including Sahtu community members and representatives from government, industry and non-governmental organizations. This study was commissioned by the Sahtu Land Use Planning Board to identify useful valued components and provide science-based information on candidate targets that could be used to manage these valued components as part of the land use plan. Three general Valued Components – wildlife, water quality, and fish were identified for the implementation project. Woodland caribou, water quality, and lake trout are concluded to be the best regional examples of these Valued Components for target implementation because relatively good information is available to generate candidate objectives for one or more regions of the Sahtu Settlement Area. Linear density (all types of corridors in zone expressed as km/km2 ) and young forest (% of zone <30 years old following burns or clearing) are proposed as the most suitable indicators for managing woodland caribou in the Sahtu Settlement Area. These were identified as the key variables in the most recent evaluation of cumulative effects on western woodland caribou. Candidate management objectives are defined for these indicators: a Cautionary Marker that specifies the point at which routine screening and monitoring should begin; a Management Target that specifies the point at which enhanced assessment and protection should begin; and a Management Threshold that defines the point at which environmental impact review and restrictive protection measures would be required. Linear density is also a useful indicator for water quality because of the influence of roads and stream crossings on stream hydrology, sediment, nutrients, and pollutants. Candidate management objectives are also defined to manage this Valued Component. Lake trout are a very good indicator of the influence of harvest on fish community health. Candidate tiered objectives are provided for old, large lake trout catch rate in Great Bear Lake, consistent with documented lake trout response to harvest and the management Sahtu Target Implementation Project ALCES Group ii vision specified in the Great Bear Lake Watershed Management Plan (Great Bear Lake Working Group 2005).

The following steps should be used for target implementation in the Sahtu Settlement Area:

  1. Adopt the candidate woodland caribou, water quality, and lake trout targets proposed in Sections 2, 3 and 4 as a foundation for further discussion.

  2. Obtain and process required land cover and land use information described in Section 5 so that it can be provided in a consistent and readily available format. Investigate opportunities to leverage NWT Environmental Stewardship Framework information management initiatives.

  3. Refine standardized analysis, reporting, and review methods proposed in Sections 6.2 through 6.4 in conjunction with the SLUPB, decision makers, and land users.

  4. Evaluate the likely future economic and environmental implications of target implementation using ALCES scenario modeling in conjunction with the SLUPB, decision makers, and land users. Use this as an opportunity to educate land users, and decision-makers about what this approach means to encourage Aboriginal peoples’ understanding and buy-in. This is described in Section 6.5.

  5. Implement a non-binding pilot study to test and refine analysis, reporting, and review methods, and build stakeholder confidence and awareness about the long-term benefits of this approach; and

  6. Continue monitoring as required to refine dose-response curves, targets, and management actions.