Land-Use References

Year Title (Author, Description) File Download
2003

Land Advocate: News for Canadians living with oil and gas production

Andrew Nikiforuk

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.

Land-Advocate-Article-by-Andrew-Nikiforuk.pdf
2003

Spatial Analysis of Rural Residential Expansion in South-Western Alberta

Miistakis Institute for the Rockies

Rural-Residential-Expansion-in-SW-Alberta-The-Miistakis-Institute-2003.pdf
2007

Scenario analysis in environmental impact assessment: Improving explorations of the future

Peter Duinker and Lorne Greig

Scenarios and scenario analysis have become popular approaches in organizational planning and participatory exercises in pursuit of sustainable development. However, they are little used, at least in any formal way, in environmental impact assessment (EIA). This is puzzling because EIA is a process specifically dedicated to exploring options for more-sustainable (i.e., less environmentally damaging) futures. In this paper, we review the state of the art associated with scenarios and scenario analysis, and describe two areas where scenario analysis could be particularly helpful in EIA: (a) in defining future developments for cumulative effects assessment; and (b) in considering the influence of contextual change, e.g. climate change, on impact forecasts for specific projects. We conclude by encouraging EIA practitioners to learn about the promise of scenario-based analysis and implement scenario-based methods so that EIA can become more effective in fostering sustainable development. Environmental Impact Assessment Review 27 (2007)

Scenario-Analysis-in-Environmental-Impact-Assessment.pdf
2012

Implications of changing environmetnal requiresments on oil sands royalties

E Valera and C.B. Powter

Examines relationships between elevating environmental costs of oilsands and government royalties

OSRIN-and-Alberta-Oilsands-and-costs-of-Environmental-Standards.pdf
2008

Curing Environmental Dis-Integration: A Prescription for Integrating the Government of Alberta's Strategic Initiatives

Danielle Droitsch, Steven A. Kennett, and Dan Woynillowicz

The Government of Alberta lacks the regulatory ability to manage the cumulative environmental impacts of the industrial development and other human activities now occurring across Alberta's landscapes. A new approach to environmental decision-making is needed to avoid continued decline in key indicators of environmental quality and depletion of Alberta's natural capital.

Curing_Environmental_Dis-Integration_Report.pdf
2008

Alberta By Design: A Blueprint for an Effective Land-Use Framework

Steve Kennett and Rick Schneider

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.

Alberta-by-Design_and_the_Land-Use_Framework.pdf
2007

An Examination Of The Effects Of Economic Growth On Landscape Features And Processes In Southern Alberta Using ALCES

Terry Antoniuk, Brad Stelfox, and Mark Anielski

Regional-scale modelling examined the long-term cumulative effects of land-use, resource demands, and population increases on the landscape of southern Alberta. The results will help inform the project, Southern Alberta Landscapes: Meeting the Challenges Ahead (SAL), in addressing the increased use of our environment into the future. SAL was launched in 2002 as a cross-Ministry, inter-governmental, strategic planning initiative to examine sustainable development issues in southern Alberta. A Base Case Scenario, which assumed a continuation of current land use practices and business plans, was developed first as a Baseline for comparison with other scenarios. An alternate scenario was then run to test various "What-if" questions. Both scenarios used 2000 for year zero because this was the most recent year for which most data were available for the region.

Effects_Of_Economic_Growth_On_Landscape_Features_And_Processes_In_Southern_AB
2006

From Science-Based Thresholds to Regulatory Limits: Implementation Issues for Cumulative Effects Management

Steve Kennett, Canadian Institute of Resources Law

Science-Based-Threshold-to-Regulatory-Limits.pdf
2010

Integrated Place-Based Approaches for Sustainable Development

The Policy Research Institute

Place-based approaches address social, environmental or economic issues and thus offer the promise of operationalizing Sustainable Development (SD) principles. By focusing attention on policy issues as they play out in concrete geographic and community settings, place-based approaches provide a means to grasp complex and sometimes unexpected connections. This issue of Horizons provides a sense of the diversity of place-based approaches as they are applied in different policy areas, and identifies some of the lessons learned from an SD perspective.

Policy_Research_Initiative_Horizons_March2010.pdf
2005

Integrated Landscape Management Modelling Workshop

Policy Research Institute

Sound land-use decision-making requires that social, economic, and environmental values be balanced, and that any repercussions within these three areas due to a decision taken in another be identified and taken into account. Land-use planning and environmental impact assessments (both aspects of integrated landscape management) could be improved, and the decision-making process better informed, through the use of integrated landscape management models (ILMM).

Integrated_Landscape_Management_Modelling_Workshop.pdf
2007

A new method to estimate species and biodiversity intactness using empirically derived reference conditions

S.E. Nielsen, E.M. Bayne, J. Schieck, J. Herbers, and S. Boutin

Critical to the conservation of biodiversity is knowledge of status and trends of species. To that end, monitoring programmes have reported on the state of biodiversity using reference conditions as comparison. Little consensus exists on how reference conditions are defined and how such information is used to index intactness. Most use protected areas or an arbitrary year as reference. This is problematic since protected areas are often spatially biased, while arbitrarily defined reference years are often not sufficiently distant in time. Biological Conservation 137 (2007)

New_method_to_estimate_species_and_biodiversity_intactness.pdf
2005

Integrated Landscape Management Tools for Sustainable Development Policy Making

Policy Research Initiative

Sustainable Development Briefing Note

Sustainable_Development_Briefing-Note_2005.pdf
2009

Regional Strategic Environmental Assessment in Canada: Principles and Guidance

Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

Regional_Strategic_Environmental_Assessment_in_Canada.pdf
2008

Ecological Infrastructure Mapping - Southern Alberta Region

02 Planning + Design Inc.

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.

Ecologocal-Infrastructure-Mapping-Southern-Alberta-Region.pdf
2009

Ecosystem Goods and Services Southern Alberta: A Framework for Assessing Natural Asset Condition

02 Planning + Design Inc.

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).

8374.pdf
2011

Ecosystem Services Approach Pilot on Wetlands Project Overview 2011

Gillian Kerr

The Ecosystem Services1 pilot is part of the longer term Ecosystem Services Roadmap intended as a tool under the Cumulative Effects Management Framework to help inform trade-off decisions and assure more robust decision-making. The Ecosystem Services pilot team was mandated to demonstrate the use and replicability of the ecosystem services to support department priorities. Using an ecosystem services (ES) approach2 is an opportunity for decision-makers to recognize previously unseen benefits as well as mitigate some unforeseen impacts stemming from development choices. By examining the environment through a framework of ecosystem services, decision-makers will have a more complete picture of the social, economic and environmental consequences, values and perspectives of development, and conservation activities on the landscape.

Ecosystem-Services-Approach-Pilot-on-Wetlands-Project-Overview-2011.pdf
2011

Ecosystem Services Approach Pilot on Wetlands Integrated Assessment Report

Dr. Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne, Geneva Claesson and Gillian Kerr

Ecosystem services (‘ES’) are the benefits that nature provides to people. Some ES benefits, such as crops, are familiar and tangible; however, other ES, such as water filtration and carbon storage, are hard to observe and are underestimated or unaddressed in decision making. Ecosystems provide innumerable services that are underrepresented or absent in most economic development decisions; however, these services contribute to development objectives (e.g., scenic quality of the land) and to realizing quality of life goals. Identifying and understanding many of the services from wetlands can provide more information to decision makers, which may help to prevent unintended consequences from development decisions. Wetlands, and the regulatory approvals process for residential subdivision development in southern Alberta, were the focus for the ES pilot. Wetlands are an integral component of Alberta’s diverse landscapes and provide a wide variety of ES. For example, if managed properly, wetlands can provide water filtration and groundwater recharge, contribute to flood prevention, and provide habitat for numerous species of interest to naturalists and hunters alike. Many wetlands also have important socio-cultural value because they provide recreational, heritage and scientific/educational opportunities. As improvements are made in describing and valuing the benefits of ES, decision makers can better understand how their decisions might change (positively or negatively) the condition, quality and/or quantity of ES that could have an impact the well-being and quality of life of Albertans, and the businesses that operate in the province. The outcome for the pilot was established as the following: “the development and operationalization of an ES approach to provide a tool to enhance decision making”. The ES approach developed for the Alberta context provides a framework to help identify and quantify - qualitatively, quantitatively and monetarily - the benefits provided by wetland ecosystems. In addition to the outcome, two objectives were established by the project steering committee, with a third captured from the ES pilot project charter: • Test and demonstrate how an ES approach can be used to support decision making by explicitly demonstrating the trade-offs between development and ES benefits provided by wetlands; • Support wetland management in the province by providing additional information to support potential compensation decisions related to land-use development; and • Identify information and capacity gaps for ES assessment to support future ES work. Meeting these objectives involved conducting various assessments on wetland ES to address gaps identified by wetland approval managers at Alberta Environment, the City of Calgary and Rocky View County (a.k.a., the ‘decision makers’) in their application of the wetland approvals process and the wetland mitigation hierarchy (which includes compensation). The decision makers helped the ES pilot team to identify, frame and prioritize key gaps in the wetlands approval process to focus the pilot assessment work. The following represent the refined gaps that were used to design the project: 1. There is insufficient evidence to support avoidance, minimization and compensation decisions on wetlands. 2. There is insufficient consideration of cumulative effects and long-term consequences of decision making. 3. There is limited ability to communicate the ‘values’ of wetlands. The pilot focused on an area covering 274 square kilometres encompassing an eastern portion of the City of Calgary, an area of Rocky View County and the Town of Chestermere. The area was chosen because of the large number of wetlands and current land use pressures where residential development is having an impact on the ES that are supplied by the landscape. The case study area features (6,400+) wetlands ranging in size from less than 0.1 hectare to over 10 hectares. However, while the number of wetlands has increased 18 per cent since 1962, wetland area has decreased by 24 per cent. This translates into a total loss of 7.7 square kilometres of wetlands between 1962 and 2005. Nested in the South Saskatchewan Region, historic landscape change in the region and the case study area has been primarily driven by population growth and agricultural expansion. More recently, urban expansion has led to new changes on the landscape, including an increased percentage of impervious surfaces, stormwater pond creation and new microclimactic conditions. Through a series of working sessions, the ES pilot chose three ES as being the top priority for greater understanding: water storage/supply, flood control and water purification/quality. These ES were chosen for in-depth assessment along with carbon storage, which was included because carbon storage opportunities feature importantly as part of the provincial Climate Change Strategy and related regulations. Additional ES (e.g., pollination, cultural ES) were described and investigated in terms of their contributions to local society, but their condition (e.g., quality, quantity and distribution) was not assessed in detail across the entire study area. The ES pilot engaged a broad selection of stakeholders, including ES beneficiaries, in the pilot. They identified cultural ES as high priorities for management in survey responses and workshop discussions. In particular, aesthetic enjoyment and science and education opportunities were identified as ‘high value’ benefits provided by wetlands. Biodiversity was also identified by multiple stakeholders as being of high importance, however, biodiversity is considered to be a necessary underlying condition for the production of ES but not an ES itself. The information generated by the ES pilot provides a baseline of knowledge about wetland ES in the study area that decision makers can apply in wetland approvals decisions. Highlights from the assessment results include: • ES benefits are context specific, as they relate as much to how the environment is used and valued as to how services are produced by ecological processes. There are a number of beneficiaries of different ES at different scales. • The total water storage capacity of all wetlands in the study area was estimated to be 36.3 million cubic metres. This represents a volume of water greater than the combined total storage capacity of the Glenmore Reservoir and Lake Chestermere. • In the fall of 2007 and 2009, seasonal and dry annual conditions resulted in an estimated total wetland volume of 14.3 million cubic metres or 39.4 percent of total water storage capacity. • An analysis of water storage capacity by Stewart & Kantrud (S&K) wetland class showed that because there is a large number of wetlands that are Class I or II, their contribution to water storage on the landscape is substantial, even if individually they hold less water than Class III-V wetlands. • The estimated total storage capacity lost due to wetland drainage between 1965 and the present is 9.2 million cubic metres. This represents a 20 per cent decrease in available water storage capacity in the study area. • All wetlands in the case study area contribute to flood control. There were no clear trends found for flood control values across either S&K or size classes, suggesting that high or low flood control depends more on landscape context than on class or size of wetlands. • The cost of replacing natural wetlands with built infrastructure was estimated from the total area of engineered wetlands that would be required to provide the same flood control services that are currently supplied by natural wetlands. A replacement cost of all wetlands was estimated at about $338 million. This corresponds to an estimated $2 million per year in economic losses when the historic rate of wetland area loss is applied. • The estimated cost of restoring all wetlands on the landscape would be $43 million. This corresponds to an estimated $257,250 per year in restoration costs if the historic rate of wetland loss is applied (0.6 per cent between 1960’s and 2005). • The majority (87 per cent) of wetland complexes within Shepard Slough have a medium to high capacity to purify water, estimated using a water purification model. • The estimated loss of soil organic carbon between 1962 and 2005 is 44,144 Milligram (Mg) (89 Mg hectares-1). This is equivalent to an emission of 161,832 Tonnes of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (CO2 e). • Applying the provincially relevant Alberta Tech Fund value of $15 /tonne of Carbon Dioxide equivalent, the economic value of carbon storage in the case study area would amount to $16.7 million. • Recreation survey results showed the potential value for recreation from wetlands in the study area to be approximately $4,390,000 per year. This result is based on an estimate of 114,685 wetland visitors each year, each spending $38.28 for a day trip. • Results of a hedonic pricing valuation identified a clear relationship between property value and distance/adjacency to wetlands. If the property is adjacent to a wetland, the value of the house increases by $4,390 - $5,136. Ecosystems Services Approach Pilot for Wetlands – Final Version October 2011 8 The results from the assessment allowed the ES pilot to address the gaps in the wetland approvals process. For example, the pilot identified that many of the ES provided by wetlands are currently excluded in current requirements for municipal Biophysical Impact Assessments and Wetland Impact Assessments and as such, multiple ES are absent from decision making. In addition, wetlands provide multiple ES simultaneously, which is important when considering avoidance or compensation options for wetlands. Importantly, the ES pilot demonstrated that although a wetland is degraded, it could be high functioning and provide a number of ES and benefits. This information could inform trade-offs and also help to highlight ‘hot spot’ areas to avoid in the planning process. A rapid assessment site-level tool tested in the pilot provided immediate benefits for the wetland approval process. It offers a tool for decision makers, complementary to the pilot’s ES approach, to develop information about the ES provided by individual wetlands. It can provide objective information on the values and functions of small and temporary wetlands that are often dismissed as unimportant when compared to large and visually appealing wetlands with permanent open water zones. The tool, Wetland Ecosystem Services Protocol for the United States (WESPUS), requires modification for the Alberta-context, however it provides an opportunity to shape the process of avoidance, mitigation and compensation in a manner that may better reflect public values associated with wetlands. If a wetland approval writer does not select avoidance or minimization, approval writers could use this tool to determine appropriate compensation and restoration requirements. The ES pilot allowed the decision makers to explore information on the cumulative effects of wetland loss and potential consequences of long term decision making. For example, the loss of wetlands in the case study area over the past 50 years has led to a substantial cumulative loss of multiple ES including flood control, water purification/ filtration and water storage. In particular, areas that have historically seen large losses in water storage are more likely to also experience changes in soil moisture, microclimate, flood control and other ES because water storage is fundamental to the delivery of other ES benefits. An important contribution of the ES pilot was the ability to demonstrate multiple ‘values’ of wetlands in the case study area. For example, the results demonstrated that all classes of wetlands in the case study area contribute benefits, regardless of size and magnitude of current degradation. Even small wetlands provide essential services such as water purification and flood control, sometimes in conjunction with adjacent and connected wetlands. To complement typical aquatic environment and hydrology information used by decision makers, the pilot incorporated socio-cultural information on how people value different ES in the study area. Information about local people’s perceptions of why wetlands are important can directly inform wetland approval decisions, as this is new information about the value of wetlands to society. Studies conducted for the pilot demonstrate that even the most abstract cultural benefits (e.g., heritage benefits) are consistently rated as of ‘high’ or ‘medium’ importance to people. The pilot demonstrated that an ES approach can provide a systematic way to assess ES benefits and impacts, and explore the trade-offs associated with development decisions that incorporate more than typical environmental and/or economic information. Given the novelty of the assessments activities, a number of recommendations have emerged to further advance the ES road map: • There is a strong need to examine how the local and regional assessment tools applied can be streamlined to improve efficiency and cost effectiveness. Many assessment activities occurred in isolation, and while the pilot team made efforts to integrate activities and align results, it is recognized that the pilot fell short of the intention to conduct a holistic and integrated ES assessment. Improved integration during the design phase can improve project delivery, communications and the final products, which can reduce costs. • The data, information and resources needed to complete ES assessments, particularly the biophysical assessment, was significant. It will be important to assess what scale and level of importance a policy or plan is to warrant the monetary and staff costs of doing an ES assessment. • The uptake of WESPUS is a ‘low hanging fruit’ to integrate ES into the wetland approvals process and other Government of Alberta activities as other ES assessment methodologies mature. With thirty-years of testing and refinement already, the WESPUS approach requires minor modifications for the Alberta context. Given the popularity of WESPUS, it will be essential to build on the momentum generated in this pilot. The concept of ES is still in its infancy, but has been recognized globally as a useful tool for communicating the value of sustainable landscape management to support development and the long-term well-being of people. Ecosystem Services are becoming increasingly important for governments and business leaders to address in decision making. The Government of Alberta took a leadership role in advancing the ES road map and completing a pilot project to explore the incorporation of ES into an actual policy gap identified by municipal and government wetland approvals writers. This report represents the Integrated Results from the ES assessments and provides key findings and uses for the information generated. The ES pilot reports make up the platform from which to move forward on a number of opportunities to further improve understanding of ES, build capacity to assess ES, and provide more complete information to decision makers to improve the outcomes of their decisions.

Ecosystem-Services-Approach-Pilot-on-Wetlands-Integrated-Assessment-report.pdf
2011

Ecosystem Services Approach Pilot on Wetlands An Exploration of Approaches to Understand Cultural Services and Benefits to Ecosystem Service Assessments

Courtney Hughes, Glenn Brown, Cory Habulin, Gillian Kerr, Krista Tremblett

This report summarizes the socio-cultural studies completed during the ES Pilot. There are a number of complementary deliverables prepared for the ES Pilot including: an Integrated Assessment Report that summarizes the results for a technical audience, an ES Approach Report that focuses on methods and process, a Project Evaluation Report, a Summary Report for Decision makers and a Summary Report for a general audience. In addition there are a number of technical reports including: reports for various components of the biophysical assessment, and a socio-economic report. As such, a detailed overview of the methods used is not included in this report. The combined deliverables for the ES Pilot together provide all the key elements for understanding the results, the methods, project evaluation and the learning’s from the Ecosystem Services Approach Pilot on Wetlands that can support future work on ES in Alberta and internationally. The socio-cultural work completed does not necessarily capture all potential cultural services and/or benefits that may be associated with the wetland under investigation or wetlands across Alberta. While attempts were made to be comprehensive in the selection of cultural services and benefits to investigate, as well as methods selected and analysis undertaken, there may be other cultural services or benefits, or other conceptualizations of these services and benefits, relevant to the study site. As such, further inquiries are likely necessary and would likely prove beneficial to an increasing understanding about cultural services and benefits related to wetlands in Alberta.

Ecosystem-Services-Approach-Pilot-on-Wetlands-an-Exploration-of-Approaches-to-Understand-Cultural-Services-and-Benefits-Nov-2011.pdf
2006

Water Quality Study of Waiparous Creek, Fallentimber Creek and Ghost River

Daniel Andrews

Increased usage of the Ghost -Waiparous basin for random camping and off-highway vehicles (OHVs) has raised concerns among stakeholders that these activities are affecting water quality in the Ghost, Waiparous and Fallentimber Rivers. This report to Alberta Environment attempts to determine whether there is a linkage between these activities and water quality in these three rivers and documents baseline water quality prior to the implementation of an access management plan by the Alberta Government.

Water_Quality_Study_of_Waiporous_Fallentimber_Ghost.pdf
2011

Ecosystem Service Approach Pilot on Wetlands: Assessment of Current and Historic Wetland Carbon Stores in the Sheppard Slough Area

Ducks Unlimited Canada

This report focuses on assessing the carbon storage associated with class 3 (seasonal), class 4 (semi-permanent), and class 5 (permanent) wetlands in the Sheppard Slough Drainage Catchment. The specific goals of this assessment were to: 1. Determine the stock of carbon contained in existing wetlands within the Sheppard Slough Study Area, and to; 2. Estimate the amount of carbon dioxide re-emitted to the atmosphere as a result of wetland loss between 1962 and 2005 in the Sheppard Slough Study Area.

Ecosystem-Services-Approach-Pilot-on-Wetlands-Carbon-Stores-in-the-Sheppard-Slough-Area-July-2011.pdf
2006

A Checklist for Evaluating Alberta's New Land-Use Initiatives

Steve Kennett

Public land management in Alberta is once again under scrutiny thanks to several policy initiatives and stakeholder consultations recently launched by the provincial government. Many stakeholder groups and individuals who pay attention to land-use issues must be wondering whether or not they should participate in this flurry of activity and how likely it is to achieve significant results.

Checklist_for_Evaluating_Alberta-s_New_Land-Use_Initiatives.pdf
2011

Ecosystem Service Approach Pilot on Wetlands Assessment of Water Storage and Flood Control Ecosystem Services

O2 Planning + Design Inc.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technologies were used to model water storage and flood control functions as well as related beneficiaries and ecosystem services of wetlands in the Shepard Slough study area east of Calgary. The water storage model used a raster-based computer script using LiDAR inputs combined with a rating curve to estimate water storage capacity volumes for each wetland in the study area. The flood control model used eight separate predictor variables of wetland flood control functions. Notable results and conclusions of the study included: Study area wetlands provides a total water storage capacity of over 36 million m3-greater than the combined total volume of the Glenmore Reservoir and Lake Chestermere; Wetland water storage provides many supporting and regulating ecosystem services upon which all other ecosystem services depend; Much water storage is located in the large central Shepard Slough Wetlands; however, the large number of small wetlands add up to a considerable storage volume on a cumulative basis; In the study area, Class IV wetlands tend to store the most water volume, both on a per wetland basis and on a cumulative basis, although variability within the class was very high; Class V wetlands also store large volumes, but there are fewer of them and they are less important on a cumulative basis than Class III wetlands overall; Class I and II wetlands have very small average wetland volumes, but they can add up to a considerable volume when taken together as a whole; A large number of wetlands have been drained in the study area, particularly within urban areas but also in agricultural areas, and the trend calculated over 1965-2005 is a 20% drop in wetland water storage volume; Users/beneficiaries of wetland water storage provisioning services are low in the study area; Cattle are the largest ecosystem service beneficiary of water storage and supply in the study area, with up to 144,000 m3/year used by cattle; The flood control index indicates that many medium and small wetlands at high landscape positions provide considerable flood control benefits, particularly on a cumulative effects basis; “Hotspots” of high flood control services included a large cluster of wetlands near the north boundary of the study area, several wetlands east of Chestermere and in the north half of the Belvedere Area Structure Plan area in The City of Calgary; Smaller areas of wetlands with high flood control indicator values are dispersed throughout the study area; All wetlands have the potential to provide some measure of flood control ecosystem services, although this occurs to differing degrees and at different scales; According to a rough calculation, if all study area wetlands were drained effectively, peak flows in the Bow River immediately downstream would increase by up to 37%, indicating the level of importance of these wetlands at mitigating peak flows in the region; and Comparisons of the WESPUS site-scale results to the GIS model results showed: - WESPUS hydrologic function scores weakly positively correlated with water storage volume - WESPUS hydrologic scores moderately positively correlated with the flood control indicator - very high variability and in particular several outliers highlighted model mismatches - caution is required when interpreting indicator values from WESPUS or GIS models.

Ecosystem-Services-Approach-Pilot-on-Wetlands-Assessment-of-Water-Storage-and-Flood-Control-Ecosystem-Services-Aug-2011.pdf
2011

Warning Signs Mitigate Deer–Vehicle Collisions in an Urban Area

Rob Found, Mark S. Boyce

Increasing collisions with deer (Odocoileus spp.) and other large animals, and the rise in associated public safety risks and economic costs, have made mitigation strategies a priority for both transportation and wildlife managers. Deer-crossing warning signage is one of the oldest forms of mitigating deer–vehicle collisions (DVCs), but despite their low cost and logistical simplicity, the effectiveness of standard-sized permanent warning signage at reducing DVCs has not previously been adequately determined. We used historical DVC data, based on deer carcass retrieval, to identify and target areas and periods of high collision frequency. We installed warning signs at these high collision frequency locations and then compared DVCs to un-signed control locations. The total number of DVCs at signed hotspots was significantly different in the year after the signs were installed, compared to the 3 prior years (F13 ¼ 4.99, P ¼ 0.004). Although the single year of posttreatment data means the long-term efficacy of warning signage remains unknown, we showed that in the first year after installation, deer-crossing signs targeting high collision locations can be effective at reducing DVCs.

FoundBoyceWSB2011.pdf
2011

Ecosystem Services Approach Pilot on Wetlands Operationalizing an Ecosystem Service Approach within the Government of Alberta: Steps and Lessons Learned November

Dr. Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne and Gillian Kerr

Ecosystem services is a concept designed to force us to acknowledge the different ways in which the environment supports human economies, the everyday lives of individuals, health and well-being, and sustainable communities. This concept can be used to communicate the importance of the environment in terms that people haven’t considered previously, and can be used to focus research and policy on how best to manage the environment to sustain human well-being. This report was one of the key deliverables required by the ES Pilot to provide a concise overview of how the ES Approach steps were undertaken and the experience and advice of the ES team about the ES Pilot outcome: the development and operationalization of an ES Approach to provide a tool to enhance decision making. It is therefore written for persons interested in understanding how the ES pilot team modified the generic ES Approach and a number of the challenges and successes with the Approach. It intended to be a useful document for others that want to consider building an ES Approach into their work. It also supports one of the objectives to try to operationalize the ES Approach for decision-making within ESRD. As such there are four primary components to the report. This Report will: 1. Describe the specific context of the ES Pilot Project on Wetlands (‘ES Pilot’), its goals and limitations; 2. Outline the methods used by the ES Approach Pilot on Wetlands to complete the 6 steps of the ‘Ecosystem Services (ES) Approach’; 3. Describe how the project was organized and discuss organizational challenges related to project structure, leadership, communication and working across disciplines; and 4. Discuss how an ES Approach could be operationalized in different contexts within ESRD to meet different objectives.

Ecosystem-Services-Approach-Pilot-on-wetlands-Operationalizing-an-Ecosystem-Service-Approach-within-the-Government-of-Alberta-Steps-and-Lessons-Learned.pdf
2011

Ecosystem Services Approach Pilot on Wetlands Economic Valuation Technical Report

Yihong Wang, Anish Neupane, Angele Vickers, Tom Klavins, Rob Bewer

The Ecosystem Services Approach Pilot on Wetlands (the ES Pilot) is part of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development’s 10-year ES Roadmap; the Pilot’s completion and results are considered a progression in understanding and applying an ES Approach to support decision making. This economic valuation technical report is one of the technical reports developed for the Pilot and forms the basis for providing monetary estimates of benefits from wetlands in the Shepard Slough study area. This valuation is part of the Ecosystem Services Approach adapted from the Millennium Ecosystem Services Approach. Shepard Slough (‘the study area’) covers approximately 274 km2, encompassing part of the City of Calgary, Rocky View County and the Town of Chestermere. The study area is primarily agriculture (~57%), with increasing settled areas (~17%) and industrial areas (~10%). About 11%, or 24.5 km2 (or 2,450 hectares), of the landscape is covered by wetlands. This area has been facing land use changes often leading to loss or alteration of wetlands over the past several decades. These land use changes has meant that ecosystem services provided by wetlands have either been lost or altered. In the context of decision making this loss and alteration has not been well understood or accounted for. Wetland regulatory decision makers identified three major gaps with respect to current decision making process. Economic valuation, using the total economic value framework, was used to help address these three major gaps identified by the wetland approval decision makers. There is limited ability to communicate the ‘values’ of wetlands Economic valuation showed that wetlands contribute to human well being by providing services that would otherwise need human intervention and infrastructure expenditure. For example, the economic values of wetland regulating services (such as flood control, water purification and carbon storage) are large and can be more effective and less costly than engineering solutions. The aesthetic benefit, expressed through premium paid for houses located nearby a wetland and recreation opportunities provided by wetlands are significant. These results can be a powerful tool to communicate the values of wetlands with different stakeholders involved in wetland management process. There is insufficient consideration of cumulative effects and long-term consequences of decision making The distribution of economic value and annual value loss on a landscape map can provide useful information in high-level strategic planning with the consideration of cumulative effects. For example, flood control benefit wetlands between 0.1 and 1.0 ha account for over eight per cent of the total, which, although small, is almost as high as the total of those wetlands between 5 to 10 hectares. In addition to the spatial dimension, there is enough flexibility for different development scenarios to be applied and to show the corresponding consequences of different development paces. We used historic wetland loss rate and also projected future potential loss. This projection could be modified using more sophisticated scenario planning. This exercise would be helpful for decision makers when undertaking planning exercise to try and understand the cumulative impact of wetland loss. iii There is insufficient evidence to support avoidance, minimization and compensation decisions on wetlands Economic valuation of wetlands across the landscape can help identify heterogeneous value areas and thus identify priorities for wetland management decisions. From a management perspective wetlands of higher values could be linked to avoidance decisions compared to lower value which might support minimization or compensation decisions. Thus economic valuation of wetland within the ES framework can provide evidence to support the management hierarchy of wetland approval process and also wetland management planning at larger landscape scales. Results of the valuation are summarized in Table EX1. It should be noted that although monetary values of benefits have been calculated, it is not appropriate to aggregate these values across the services. It is partially because of the different scales being used for valuation and value measures (e.g. total, average, marginal value) also differed amongst the ES. Some other limitations and caveats remain. There is still incomplete understanding of changes in ES and how that relates to human wellbeing. Economic valuation provides a ‘snapshot’ of complex and dynamic system and potentially ignores the complex interdependencies among ES. Valuation also assumes that there are no thresholds, discontinuities, or irreversibility in ecosystem functions. In reality, ecosystems have thresholds and services that are likely interdependent. Data and resource constraints influenced the application of valuation methods and in some cases a ‘second best’ valuation method was used. Although reasonable care was taken when using benefit transfer, further work to refine and calibrate those values to local context is recommended. A project of this size and scope involves multiple teams and disciplines, with the interdependencies among their work. Better coordination and integration among work tasks as well as awareness of the dependencies on biophysical assessment outputs to conduct economic valuation is needed. In spite of these limitations and caveats, we believe that valuation provides useful information and can assist in making more informed wetland management decisions. Important to note that this valuation study does not capture all potential benefits associated with wetlands. While we have attempted to be comprehensive in our analysis, only a suite of most relevant ES in the study area was assessed. With the analysis to continue focusing on locally relevant ES to assist in the decision making, a broader suite of ES categories could be assessed to gain a holistic picture of all wetland ES and benefits in future studies. It is also acknowledged that ecosystems are considered to have intrinsic value, independent of the services they provide to humans. However, it is beyond the scope of this study to assess this type of value.

Ecosystem-Services-Approach-Pilot-on-Wetlands-Economic-Valuation-Technical-Report-Oct-2011.pdf
2006

Relationships between Soil and Runoff Phosphorus in Small Alberta Watersheds

Joanne Little, Sheilah Nolan, Janna Casson, and Barry Olson

Field-scale relationships between soil test phosphorus (STP) and flow-weighted mean concentrations (FWMCs) of dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) and total phosphorus (TP) in runoff are essential for modeling phosphorus losses, but are lacking. The objectives of this study were (i) to determine the relationships between soil phosphorus (STP and degree of phosphorus saturation (DPS)) and runoff phosphorus (TP and DRP) from field-sized catchments under spring snowmelt and

Little-et-al-2006-Phos-in-small-Alberta-watersheds.pdf
2011

Ecosystem Service Assessment of Wetland Water Purification for the Shepard Slough Study Area

Irena F. Creed Consulting

There is a critical need for regional scale assessments of wetlands for ecosystem services. This study reports on a regional scale assessment using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing (RS) technologies for water purification services provided by wetlands in Shepard Slough, the study area for the Ecosystem Services Pilot Project (ESPP). Prototypes were developed for both a basic (readily available GIS and RS data, most of it freely downloadable from the Internet) and advanced (higher quality datasets with higher spatial resolution) approach. Due to the severe time constraints of the contract (during which we were unable to gain access to the required data for the advanced approach), only the “Regional-Basic” approach was implemented. Based on this Regional-Basic approach, we found monetary benefits to increase from 1990 to 2010 for water purification, with the monetary increase due mainly to an increase in wetland area defined by inundated water. We expect the “Regional-Advanced” approach to provide a more precise analysis, as the basic approach is based largely on the area of wetlands for water purification and ignores many of the other wetland features important for water purification.

Ecosystem-Service-Assessment-of-Wetland-Water-Purification-for-the-Shepard-Slough-Study-Area-Sept-2011.pdf
2008

Potential of Rangelands to Sequester Carbon in Alberta

Eric Bremer

Potential-of-Reangelands-to-Sequester-Carbon-in-Alberta---Bremer-2008.pdf
2003

Export Coefficients for Total Phosphorus, Total Nitrogen and Total Suspended Solids in the Southern Alberta Region - A Review of Literature

Y. Jeje

The objectives of the literature review were to: A) Identify and summarize literature that provide quantitative information on Total Nitrogen (TN), Total phosphorus (TP) and Total Suspended Solids (TSS) export coefficients in the Southern Alberta region, B) Identify and summarize literature that provide quantitative information on TN, TP and TSS export coefficients in the following landscape cover categories provided by Alberta Environment, Calgary: Native Prairie (9) classes, Agriculture (6) classes, Forest Area (7) classes and Miscellaneous (4) classes for input in the ALCES computer simulation model currently under development. C) Prepare a report that presents a descriptive inventory and analysis of literature including a list of all relevant literature reviewed and abstracts of selected literature appropriately categorized, and provide a discussion of data generated. D) Identify and summarize literature that provides quantitative information on TN, TP and TSS export coefficients for Non-native Land Use categories in the Southern Alberta region.

Water-runoff-coefficeints--N--P--TSS--for-Southern-AB---literature-review---2003-.pdf
2011

Ecosystem Services Approach Pilot on Wetlands Wetland Ecosystem Services Protocol for the United States (WESPUS) Site Assessments

02 Planning + Design Inc.

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: &#61623; use caution when making inferences and correlations with Steward and Kantrud wetlands classes, as all classes appear to serve many ecosystem services &#61623; compare relative values of ecosystem function with a socio-economic evaluation of wetlands function &#61623; identify the differences in effectiveness and values of constructed wetlands based on their designated purpose &#61623; potentially use this tool to evaluate whether the pre-disturbance function of the compensated wetland has been effectively replaced post construction &#61623; 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 &#61623; 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 &#61623; 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: &#61623; 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. &#61623; 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. &#61623; 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.

Ecosystem-Services-Approach-Pilot-on-Wetlands-Wetland-Ecosystem-Services-Protocol-for-the-United-States-Site-Assess-Aug-2011.pdf
1995

Relationships Between Stand Age, Stand Structure, and Biodiversity in Aspen Mixedwood Forests in Alberta

J.B. Stelfox (editor)

Resource managers and the environmental community are concerned that intensive clearcut logging of Alberta's aspen-dominated boreal mixedwood forests at 60–70 year rotations may alter the age class structure of the forest landscape and result in a change in forest structure and biota. In response to these concerns, we described forest structure and composition of plant and animal communities in young (20–30 years), mature (50–65 years) and old (120+ years) aspen mixedwood stands of fire origin in Alberta. The information collected in this study will serve as a reference against which structure and biota in harvested forests can be compared.

Final-Aspen-Biodiversity-Report-.pdf
2007

Review of Alberta Environment’s Ecosystem Goods and Services Assessment - Southern Alberta Phase 2 Report

Management and Solutions in Environmental Science

Alberta Environment (AENV) requested that Management and Solutions in Environmental Science (MSES) review and assess their Ecosystem Goods and Services Assessment Report (EGS Assessment). The peer review provides comments on the main elements of the EGS Assessment. We base our review on the stated goal of the Ecosystem Services Project, namely that the “ultimate aim is … to deliver the right information to policy developers and decision makers…”. Specifically, MSES evaluates the overall framework of the EGS Assessment, addresses the questions posed by AENV, and provides recommendations for further discussion. The following overarching comments or points are made on the EGS Assessment. More detailed responses to specific questions can be found in the body of our report. A list of recommendations for consideration is also provided. 1. The EGS Assessment presents a useful framework for assessing goods and services that are provided by landscape parameters, which are composed of a mosaic of habitats and a diversity of wildlife that uses them. However, for discussion we would like to highlight the anchoring question of this work: “How do ecosystem services support the maintenance of natural and anthropogenic assets?” . A service supporting an asset is only meaningful from an anthropogenic economic perspective, wherein a service is maintained strictly for its value to humans. From a natural ecosystem perspective, is it not the asset that supports the service rather than the other way around? The wording of the question has a major impact on how one views the direction of dependencies. The way that all spreadsheet tables are set up in the document suggests that a service maintains an asset. Using a cow and produced milk as an example, the milk is the result of the condition of the cow: no cow – no milk; poor cow – little milk; good cow – plenty of milk. The authors of the report ask questions from an economic perspective (translated): how does the milk support the maintenance of the cow? Therefore, all spreadsheet tables must be read from assets to services. However, ecological systems include parameters that may or may not fit neatly into human economic systems. For example, “How do Prairie Wetlands maintain the service of water regulation?” While sometimes there are feedbacks from the services to the assets, this important point of critique has a large impact on the overall assessment. In addition to summing-up and reporting the services, the values of the assets (which, in part, should consider asset condition) should be summed-up also. 2. The world’s ecosystem services have been under-valued by several orders of magnitude. Many current economists’ approaches to put dollar values to natural assets are highly inadequate. Civilizations died out (e.g. Sumerians in Mesopotamia) because one single element of the ecosystem (soil) was degraded (salinization) to such an extent that food production was severely decimated. In the given example, what was the value of the soil? Is the value of the soil in this example not close to infinite? This idea is corroborated by Costanza et al. (1997), who state that in one sense the total value of ecosystem services to the economy is infinite. 3. In addition to the problem of evaluating an economic service provided by natural assets, there is an emotional or spiritual service that is extremely difficult to express in monetary terms; the human perception of well-being provided by the surroundings. For example, what would the quality of our lives be without rivers and lakes? Or with only polluted rivers and lakes? Natural assets provide services that we need for our spiritual survival as a whole. 4. While the authors have undertaken a literature review (200 titles), it is not necessarily exhaustive. It is likely that there are many more publications that could be reviewed with potential findings that could be incorporated into the southern Alberta EGS Assessment framework. The EGS Assessment is very important and complex, and additional work is required to fill in many of the existing gaps. 5. One of the objectives of the assessment is to “Provide an understanding of the value of high quality ecosystems in relation to economic production in southern Alberta,…”(pg 5). Figure 3-1 of the report (pg 12) presents a conceptual framework of the function of ecosystem services. However, the figure does not carry a clear message, as it does not provide specific details or an explanation of the different types of arrows. No other framework of value assessment of ecosystems is provided. De Groot et al. (2002) in Barg and Swanson (2004) provide one such figure (see Figure 1, this report) that could be used as a starting point for the framework (written for Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada). A clear division of ecological, socio-cultural and economic values could facilitate the value assessment of ecosystem services in southern Alberta.

Review-of-Alberta-Environment-s-Ecosystem-Goods-and-Services-Assessment---Southern-Alberta-Phase-2-Report.pdf
2001

A Method for Measuring Sediment Production from Forest Roads

Keith Kahklen

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.

A-Method-for-Measuring-Sediment-Production-from-Forest-Roads.pdf
1992

Catchment Disturbance and Stream Response: An Overview of Stream Research at Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory

Webster, Golladay, Benfield, Meyer, Swank, Wallace

People interested in stream pollution frequently make a distinction between point-source and non-point-source pollution. Point-source pollution comes out of a pipe; non-point pollution generally enters streams in run-off from surrounding land. It is our contention that non-point-source pollution is a major contributor to degradation of water quality and ecosystem integrity in rivers; the direct effects are primarily to small streams and are then transmitted downstream to larger rivers. In this chapter we illustrate how a terrestrial disturbance affects small streams and how these streams respond to and recover from the disturbance.

Catchment-Disturbance-and-Stream-Response-An-Overview-of-Stream-Research-at-Coweeta-Hydrologic-Laboratory.pdf
2010

COSEWIC's Assessment Process and Criteria

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) exists to provide Canadians and their governments with advice regarding the status of wildlife species that are nationally at risk of extinction or extirpation. The COSEWIC process is divided into three sequential steps, each of which has a tangible outcome. These are detailed below. • selection of wildlife species requiring assessment - the COSEWIC Candidate List; • compilation of available data, knowledge and information - the COSEWIC status report; and • assessment of a wildlife species' risk of extinction or extirpation and subsequent designation - the record of COSEWIC assessment results.

COSEWICs-Assessment-Process-and-Criteria.pdf
2012

Mayatan Lake State of the Watershed Report

Melissa Logan, P.Biol., Billie Milholland, B.A., and David Trew, P.Biol.

The purpose of this report is to summarize all available environmental information for Mayatan Lake and its surrounding watershed. This report also provides a benchmark against which future stewardship activities and best management practices aimed at maintaining and improving watershed health can be assessed. The information will provide landowners, stakeholders, Parkland County and the Mayatan Lake Management Association (MLMA) with the information needed to support sound management decisions and develop solutions to protect or enhance land and water resources in the watershed. It also serves as a localized component and example of NSWA’s larger basin planning initiative, the Integrated Watershed Management Plan for the North Saskatchewan River Basin.

Mayatan-Lake-SoW-Final-Aug-2012.pdf
1980

Cumulative Effects of Logging Road Sediment on Salmonid Populations in the Clearwater River Jefferson County Washington

C.J. Cederholm, L.M. Reid, E.O. Salo

The nature of sediment production from logging roads and the effect of the resulting sediment on salmonid spawning success in the Clearwater River drainage have been studied for eight years. The study includes intensive and extensive analyses of field situations, supplemented by several controlled experiments. It was found that significant amounts (15-25 percent) of fine sediments (less than 0.85 mm diameter material) are accumulating in spawning gravels of some heavily roaded tributary basins. This accumulation is highest in basins where the road area exceeds 2.5 percent of the basin area. Tributaries of relatively steep gradient are less likely to accumulate high levels of fines. The survival of salmonid eggs to emergence is inversely correlated with percent fines when the percentage of fines exceeds the natural levels of 10 percent. There is a rapid decrease in survival to emergence for each 1 percent increase in fines over natural levels. The presence of 2.5 km/km2 of gravel-surfaced roads undergoing an average distribution of road uses is found to be responsible for producing sediment at 2.6-4.3 times the natural rate in a drainage basin. Sixty percent of the road-related sediment production is caused by landslides while erosion on road surfaces accounts for an additional 18-26 percent. If fine sediment alone is considered, production from road surfaces and landslides is nearly equal. The tributaries of the Clearwater River may be underseeded for coho salmon due to heavy harvest rates in the commercial and sport fisheries. This underseeded condition becomes significant when the efficiency of the spawning environment in producing recruits is lowered by logging-caused sedimentation.

Cumulative-Effects-of-Logging-Road-Sediment-on-Salmonid-Populations-in-the-Clearwater-River-Jefferson-County-WA.pdf
2012

Fresh: Edmonton's Food and Urban Agriculture Strategy

The City of Edmonton Food and Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee

This Strategy provides a singular opportunity to imagine how new approaches to food and urban agriculture can make Edmonton an even better place to live, work, play and invest. It’s no exaggeration to say that food matters to each of us every day, but we also need to consider how to make our city a more innovative and dynamic food and urban agriculture setting as we move into the future.

Edmontons-Food-and-Urban-Agriculture-Strategy.pdf
2011

Defining Pre-Industrial and Current Disturbance Regime Parameters for the North Saskatchewan Regional Planning Area

David Andison

This report is a technical and scientific support document to the land use planning process for the North Saskatchewan Regional Plan landscape. More specifically, the information here will provide the best available state-of-knowledge of the pre-industrial and current or business-as-usual disturbance regimes. Furthermore, this information will be used as input for a scenario / simulation modelling exercise. Specifically the Objective is: To provide a complete and succinct summary of the current state of knowledge of all key parameters of the historic and current disturbance regimes of the North Saskatchewan landscape in a model-user-friendly format.

NSRP-RegimeParmeters_-2011-.pdf
1998

Forest Road Sediment and Drainage Monitoring Project Report for Private and State Lands in Western Oregon

Arne Skaugset and Marganne M. Allen

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.

Forest-Road-Sediment-and-Drainage-Monitoring-Project-Report.pdf
2011

Guidelines for Using the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria

The Standards and Petitions Subcommittee of the IUCN Species Survival Commission

The IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria were first published in 1994 following six years of research and broad consultation (IUCN 1994). The 1994 IUCN Categories and Criteria were developed to improve objectivity and transparency in assessing the conservation status of species, and therefore to improve consistency and understanding among users. The 1994 categories and criteria were applied to a large number of species in compiling the 1996 Red List of Threatened Animals. The assessment of many species for the 1996 Red List drew attention to certain areas of difficulty, which led IUCN to initiate a review of the 1994 categories and criteria, which was undertaken during 1998 to 1999. This review was completed and the IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria (version 3.1) are now published (IUCN 2001). This document provides guidelines to the application of version 3.1 of the categories and criteria, and in so doing addresses many of the issues raised in the process of reviewing the 1994 categories and criteria. This document explains how the criteria should be applied to determine whether a taxon belongs in a category of threat, and gives examples from different taxonomic groups to illustrate the application of the criteria. These guidelines also provide detailed explanations of the definitions of the many terms used in the criteria. The guidelines should be used in conjunction with the official IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria booklet (IUCN 2001).

Guidelines-for-Using-the-IUCN-Red-LIst-Categories-and-Criteria.pdf
2003

Habitat Management in the Yukon Winter Range of the Little Rancheria Caribou Herd

J.Z. Adamczewski, R.F. Florkiewicz and V. Loewen

Woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) ranges have shrunk substantially across North America due to the complex effects of human-caused habitat changes. As a result, COSEWIC1 listed nearly all woodland caribou populations in Canada as either Threatened or of Special Concern in May 2002. The Little Rancheria Herd (LRH) of caribou, which numbered about 1,000 in 1999, has a lowland forested winter range with some merchantable pine and spruce stands just west of Watson Lake, Yukon. Timber harvest in this range has to date (2003) been limited but the potential for habitat fragmentation is high. In this report we develop a long-term approach to habitat management of the Yukon LRH winter range, based on the herd’s habitat use and ecology, together with studies and management of woodland caribou elsewhere. The direct and indirect effects of development on woodland caribou include: • loss of fragile, slow-growing lichens, the • primary caribou winter forage, • avoidance of disturbed areas, particularly those with heavy traffic, • increased hunter access and harvest, • collisions with vehicles, • increased access to remote caribou range for predators, primarily wolves, and • improved habitat suitability for other • ungulates like moose. Where these other prey sustain elevated wolf numbers, caribou numbers often decline. Alberta studies showed that caribou were more likely to be killed by wolves in areas within 250 m of all recent cut-blocks and other developments, and that caribou used these areas much less than undisturbed forests. The development “footprint” was defined as the proportion of the land-base within such avoidance zones. Where the development footprint in a caribou range was 50% or greater, the population was likely to be declining at 1–3% annually, even with little or no hunting. Threshold levels limiting the footprint in caribou range have been proposed as a management option for the Yukon. Management guidelines for caribou ranges in British Columbia and Ontario focus on protecting critical caribou habitat from development and access, and allow carefully managed development in less sensitive caribou range. Three management zones in the Yukon LRH winter range were identified in the 1990s based first on reconnaissance surveys and later confirmed by radio-collar locations: a heavily used core, a surrounding extended range, and a migration corridor. Although just 3.6% of the land-base had been cut for timber by 2002, the development footprint in the LRH Yukon winter range was 16% overall, with 18% in the core, 18% in the extended range, and 5% in the migration zone. Like most Yukon caribou herds, the LRH is hunted. The estimated annual harvest rate averaged 5% from 1992 to 2002. To enable continued hunting of this herd, and to allow for periodic range losses to fire, development in this winter range must be kept at levels well below the 50% footprint values linked to serious declines in Alberta. The suggested management approach for the LRH Yukon winter range is based on British Columbia models, Alberta studies, and recent reports proposing thresholds for development footprint in caribou range. The main points of the approach are: • withdraw the core winter range from further logging or development, • establish a connected reserve network of high-quality habitat in the extended range and migration zone, and • establish maximum development footprint values of 30% in the extended range and 25% in the migration zone.

rancheria_habitat_management.txt
2009

Literature Review of Selected Best Management Practices Specific to Agricultural Practices in Red-Assiniboine River Watersheds

Stephanie Melles

Literature_review_of_BMP_specific_to_agricultural_practices_draft_-Melles2009-.pdf
2007

Protecting Water, Producing Gas: Minimizing the Impact of Coalbed Methane and Other Natural Gas Production on Alberta’s Groundwater

Mary Griffiths

Water_Gas_Apr07_Final-1-.pdf
2008

Quantification of Extinction Risk: IUCN’s System for Classifying Threatened Species

G. Mace, N. Collar, K. Gaston, C. Milner-Gulland, and S. Stuart

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species was increasingly used during the 1980s to assess the conservation status of species for policy and planning purposes. This use stimulated the development of a new set of quantitative criteria for listing species in the categories of threat: critically endangered, endangered, and vulnerable. These criteria, which were intended to be applicable to all species except microorganisms, were part of a broader system for classifying threatened species and were fully implemented by IUCN in 2000. The system and the criteria have been widely used by conservation practitioners and scientists and now underpin one indicator being used to assess the Convention on Biological Diversity 2010 biodiversity target. We describe the process and the technical background to the IUCN Red List system. The criteria refer to fundamental biological processes underlying population decline and extinction. But given major differences between species, the threatening processes affecting them, and the paucity of knowledge relating to most species, the IUCN system had to be both broad and flexible to be applicable to the majority of described species. The system was designed to measure the symptoms of extinction risk, and uses 5 independent criteria relating to aspects of population loss and decline of range size. A species is assigned to a threat category if it meets the quantitative threshold for at least one criterion. The criteria and the accompanying rules and guidelines used by IUCN are intended to increase the consistency, transparency, and validity of its categorization system, but it necessitates some compromises that affect the applicability of the system and the species lists that result. In particular, choices were made over the assessment of uncertainty, poorly known species, depleted species, population decline, restricted ranges, and rarity; all of these affect the way red lists should be viewed and used. Processes related to priority setting and the development of national red lists need to take account of some assumptions in the formulation of the criteria.

Quantification-of-Extinction-Risk-IUCNs-System-for-Classifying-Threatened-Species.pdf
2007

Road Sediment Production and Delivery: Processes and Management

Lee MacDonald and Drew B.R. Coe

Unpaved roads are often considered to be the predominant sediment source in forested catchments. In steep, wet climates roads can cause a 10- to 300-fold increase in the landslide erosion rate, and this increase is due to the effects of roads on hillslope flow paths and the structural integrity of hillslopes. The proportion of sediment that is delivered to the stream will generally be very high for road-induced failures in hollows and inner gorge landforms, and much lower for planar hillslope failures. The pulsed input of sediment from roadinduced landsliding can greatly alter stream channel habitat and morphology. Unpaved roads can increase sediment production rates by more than an order of magnitude as a result of road surface erosion. The high surface erosion rate stems from the generation of surface runoff from the highly compacted road travelway, the lack of surface cover, and the availability of fine sediment due to traffic and road maintenance procedures such as grading. Sediment delivery to streams occurs primarily at road-stream crossings and secondarily by road-induced gullies. The proportion of the road network that is connected to the stream network is primarily a function of mean annual precipitation (R2=0.9), and is increased by about 40% in the absence of any engineered drainage structures. The chronic input of the fine sediment from roads can have adverse effects on freshwater aquatic ecosystems as well as coral reefs. Our present understanding of road surface erosion processes is good, but our models to predict road surface erosion and landsliding are much better for relative than absolute predictions. Climate change can greatly increase road-induced landslides and road surface erosion by increasing the magnitude of large storm events and increasing the amount of rain relative to snow. Extensive field surveys also show that relatively few road segments typically generate most of the road-related increases in sediment yields. Road surface erosion, the risk of road-induced landslides, and road sediment delivery can be greatly decreased by improved road designs and maintenance practices. Hence the greatest needs are to develop and provide land managers with the tools for identifying high-risk segments, and then to make the necessary investments in road reconstruction and restoration.

Road-Sediment-Production-and-Delivery-Processes-and-Management.pdf
2008

Sediment Production and Delivery from Forest Roads and Off-Highway Vehicle Trails in the Upper South Platte River Watershed, Colorado

Matthew J. Welsh

Sediment is a principal cause of impairment to surface water quality. Erosion is a particularly important environmental issue in the Upper South Platte River (USPR) watershed of Colorado because it is the primary source of drinking water for Denver, has a high-value fishery, and several stream reaches are impaired by high levels of sediment. Unpaved roads are often considered a dominant source of sediment in forested watersheds, and off-highway vehicle (OHV) trails are another potentially important but largely unquantified sediment source. The objectives of this study were to: (1) quantify sediment production and delivery from forest road and OHV trail segments in the USPR watershed; (2) test the accuracy of WEPP:Road, SEDMODL2, and two empirical models for predicting sediment production from roads and OHV trails; and (3) compare sediment production, sediment delivery, and sediment yields from forest roads and OHV trails. Rainfall, site characteristics, and sediment production were measured on 14-22 native surface road segments from 2001 to 2006, and these data were used to test the accuracy of WEPP:Road and SEDMODL2. Empirical models for predicting storm-based and annual sediment production were developed from the first four years of data; the last two years of data were used for model testing. Similar measurements on 5-10 OHV trail segments from 2005 to 2006 were used to test WEPP:Road and SEDMODL2. Sediment delivery was assessed by detailed surveys along 17 km of roads and 10 km of OHV trails. In 2006 mean sediment production from the 10 OHV trail segments was 18.5 kg m-2 yr-1, or six times the mean value from the 21 road segments. The percentage of OHV trails connected to streams was 24%, or 70% higher than for roads, largely because more OHV trails were in the valley bottoms. None of the models accurately predicted sediment production from roads or OHV trails, but the performance of SEDMODL2 was greatly improved by calibrating the geology and traffic factors to the study area. SEDMODL2 also could be improved by adjusting the slope factor, better accounting for rill density on native surface roads, and making the rainfall factor dependent on rainfall erosivity rather than rainfall depth. WEPP:Road could be improved by making sediment production decrease rather than increase with higher soil rock content, and increasing the effect of a categorical change from no traffic to low traffic. Road density in the study area is 0.6 km km-2, or three times the density of OHV trails. Multiplying unit area sediment production normalized by summer erosivity times the density, mean active width, and percent connectivity indicates that roads and OHV trails are respectively delivering approximately 1.1 Mg km-2 and 0.8 Mg km-2 of sediment to the stream network per year. Sediment delivery to streams can be reduced by locating roads and OHV trails out of valley bottoms and off steep hillslopes, decreasing segment lengths, and reducing segment slopes.

Sediment-Production-and-Delivery-from-Forest-Roads-and-Off-Highway-Vehicle-Trails-in-the-Upper-S-Platte-River-Watershed-Colorado.pdf
1990

Sediment Production from Forest Roads with Wheel Ruts

Randy b. Foltz and Edward R. Burroughs, Jr.

Artificial rainfall was applied to two sets of paired plots 30.5 m long by 1.52 m wide, each set on a different soil type. One plot in each set contained a wheel rut while the other did not. Measurements of water and sediment yield on rutted plots showed sediment production declined with cumulative runoff while unrutted plots did not show a significant sediment depletion. This difference was a result of concentrated flow versus sheet flow.

Seditment-Production-from-Forest-Roads-with-Wheel-Ruts.pdf
2012

Shell Jackpine Mine Expansion Project

Oil Sands Environmental Coalition

The Panel’s responsibilities to determine if the Project is in the public interest and determine if it will create significant adverse effects, is onerous. We believe it would assist the Panel in discharging its responsibility to protect the public interest and make its assessment of the residual impacts, if it ensured that mitigation will, in fact, be implemented and knew the status of its previous recommendations, and commitments made by the proponent on which the Panel and ERCB relied upon – particularly as it relates to Shell’s projects and the projects in the Muskeg River basin.

Shell-Jackpine-Mine-Expansion-Project.pdf
2003

Scenario Planning: a Tool for Conservation in an Uncertain World

Garry Peterson, Graeme Cumming, and Stephen Carpenter

Conservation decisions about how, when, and where to act are typically based on our expectations for the future. When the world is highly unpredictable and we are working from a limited range of expectations, however, our expectations will frequently be proved wrong. Scenario planning offers a framework for developing more resilient conservation policies when faced with uncontrollable, irreducible uncertainty. A scenario in this context is an account of a plausible future. Scenario planning consists of using a few contrasting scenarios to explore the uncertainty surrounding the future consequences of a decision. Ideally, scenarios should be constructed by a diverse group of people for a single, stated purpose. Scenario planning can incorporate a variety of quantitative and qualitative information in the decision-making process. Often, consideration of this diverse information in a systemic way leads to better decisions. Furthermore, the participation of a diverse group of people in a systemic process of collecting, discussing, and analyzing scenarios builds shared understanding. The robustness provided by the consideration of multiple possible futures has served several groups well; we present examples from business, government, and conservation planning that illustrate the value of scenario planning. For conservation, major benefits of using scenario planning are (1) increased understanding of key uncertainties, (2) incorporation of alternative perspectives into conservation planning, and (3) greater resilience of decisions to surprise.

Peterson-et-al-2003---Scenario-Planning.pdf
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