|Year||Title (Author, Description)||File Download|
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.
|Contact ALCES for Oil Sands Environmental Coalition, 2012|
CUMULATIVE EFFECTS THRESHOLDS FOR ARCTIC GRAYLING IN THE WAPITI RIVER WATERSHED
Adam Paul Norris
Intensity and types of land use have changed rapidly in the last century and in north-western Alberta this has coincided with the decline of Wapiti River watershed Arctic Grayling (Thymallus arcticus) populations. Data on diurnal dissolved oxygen (DO), chemical and physical stream habitat data were collected in nine sub-watersheds of the Wapiti River with historically abundant Arctic Grayling populations. Levels and fluctuations of DO and temperature were related to the status of populations; five of the nine streams had higher temperatures and lower DO during summer, anoxic conditions during winter and extirpated populations. Amount of disturbed land and road density within sub-watersheds were inversely related to DO levels and population status. Cumulative effects modelling suggests a possible mechanism for these relationships is increased phosphorous runoff, leading to impaired habitat. These relationships and thresholds may be used as a management tool to maintain or restore Arctic Grayling and other stream fishes.
|Contact ALCES for Adam Paul Norris, 2012|
Defining Pre-Industrial and Current Disturbance Regime Parameters for the North Saskatchewan Regional Planning Area
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.
|Contact ALCES for David Andison, 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:  use caution when making inferences and correlations with Steward and Kantrud wetlands classes, as all classes appear to serve many ecosystem services  compare relative values of ecosystem function with a socio-economic evaluation of wetlands function  identify the differences in effectiveness and values of constructed wetlands based on their designated purpose  potentially use this tool to evaluate whether the pre-disturbance function of the compensated wetland has been effectively replaced post construction  consider how to address wetland numbers vs. wetland area. For example, if eight 1 ha wetlands are disturbed and replaced with one 8 ha wetland, it may not address the replacement of the original wetlands’ function  request that Dr. Paul Adamus make some adjustments to amend the WESPUS tool for the Alberta context and that some references are added to assist the field surveyor  initiate further research projects to strengthen the empirical data for Wetlands Ecosystem Services and to assist regulators in making approval decisions (e.g., conduct trials for boreal peatland applications) The ability of WESPUS to address the gaps and weaknesses in the approval process based on the findings of the site assessments are discussed as well. For example:  WESPUS has the ability to inform what types of functions and related ecosystem services a wetland provides. It can also provide objective information on the values and functions of small and temporary wetlands which are often written off as unimportant when compared to large and visually appealing wetlands with permanent open water zones. This tool can provide some evidence to support avoidance, mitigation and compensation decisions on wetlands.  Applying WESPUS in the context of individual applications for wetland disturbance may improve cumulative effects management over time by moving towards greater maintenance of wetland functions and services as opposed to simply wetland acreage under a no net loss policy. Further investigation is required to determine how to make WESPUS compatible with a cumulative effects management system.  A standardized protocol such as WESPUS does allow for a quantifiable and objective approach in communicating the value of wetlands. An evaluation tool such as WESPUS could be used province-wide to evaluate the function and value of all types of wetlands and help inform reclamation planning or compensation efforts.
|Contact ALCES for 02 Planning + Design Inc., 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.
|Contact ALCES for Irena F. Creed Consulting, 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.
|Contact ALCES for Rob Found, Mark S. Boyce, 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).
|Contact ALCES for The Standards and Petitions Subcommittee of the IUCN Species Survival Commission, 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.
|Contact ALCES for Yihong Wang, Anish Neupane, Angele Vickers, Tom Klavins, Rob Bewer, 2011|
Chief Mountain Cumulative Effects Study
Barry Wilson and Mark Hudson
The Chief Mountain Study attempts to balance the perspectives of different stakeholders in the area and is based on the premise that all land uses examined provide economic benefits, but these benefits may have associated environmental liabilities, such as impacts on surface and groundwater or the loss of natural biodiversity. It also recognizes some liabilities may be minor by themselves, but have more serious cumulative effects. The study attempts to identify potentially conflicting land use trends and to show that even the decisions of individuals can have beneficial or negative consequences.
|Contact ALCES for Barry Wilson and Mark Hudson, 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.
|Contact ALCES for Ducks Unlimited Canada, 2011|