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RESPONSE OF A WINTERING MOOSE POPULATION TO ACCESS MANAGEMENT AND NO HUNTING – A MANITOBA EXPERIMENT
Vince Crichton, Trevor Barker, and Doug Schindler
We report on an experiment undertaken in eastern Manitoba beginning in 1996, in which a moose population wintering in 62 km2 (24.2 mi2)was protected from hunting until September 2003. At the time of closure, it is speculated that about 37 (0.6/km2 (1.5/mi2)) moose wintered in the area based on aerial surveys and considering visibility bias. The closure was supported by the Eastern Region Committee for Moose Management, which is comprised of Manitoba Conservation staff, First Nation representatives from local communities, local hunting organizations, and other interest groups such as Tembec Manitoba Incorporated and the Manitoba Model Forest. Road access to the area was curtailed by using locked gates, millstones, and V-plowing a portion of the road in 2002. The area was surveyed from a helicopter on March 4, 2003, and 107 moose were counted in the closed area and again, based on visibility bias, it is speculated that about 142 moose (2.3/km2 (5.8/mi2 )) were present. This experiment clearly demonstrates that moose will respond positively to access management and no hunting, and that V-plowing roadbeds is a useful technique for controlling access. The cost associated with such plowing varies from about $500-$1,500/km depending on material contained in the roadbed.
The Challenge of Developing Social Indicators for Cumulative Effects Assessment and Land Use Planning
Mitchell, R. E., and J. R. Parkins
This paper provides a synopsis on social indicators as relevant to cumulative effects assessment and land use planning. Although much has been done to better understand the social dimensions of environmental assessment, empirical work has been lacking on social indicators that could be used either as measurable inputs or outputs for cumulative effects assessment and land use planning in different kinds of communities and regions. Cumulative effects models currently in practice often fail to address deeper issues of community and regional well-being. Against this gap, social scientists are being asked to make reliable generalizations about functional, measurable relationships between certain social indicators and land use change or scenarios. To address this challenge, the Alberta Research Council held a two-day workshop in 2005 with social scientists. The workshop resulted in a list of prioritized social indicators that could be included in cumulative effects modeling/assessments and land use planning. The top five social indicators included population growth rate, education attainment, self-assessed quality of life, equity, i.e., distribution of benefits, and locus of control. Although consensus on social indicators and social thresholds for cumulative effects models was not reached, the insight gained from the workshop will help inform future cumulative effects assessment and land use planning.
Models and Data: What are they saying about cumulative effects on wildlife species important to the community of Fort McKay
Wildlife is an integral part of the Fort McKay’s culture. Since the start of development (late 1960s) there has been a transformation of traditional lands from boreal forest and wetlands into oil sands development (open pit mines, in situ operations, and associated infrastructure). The environmental impact assessments (EIAs) prepared by oil sands operators and proponents repeatedly claim that these developments will have little impact on wildlife populations and their habitats because reclamation will return the land to a productive state. Fort McKay Community members are skeptical of future reclamation success and believe that development already has negatively impacted certain wildlife populations. The Fort McKay also has concerns about the project by project review process and the assessment of cumulative effects. This report provides brief summaries of studies that show cumulative effects on wildlife important to the Fort McKay. This report also presents wildlife data from EIAs and the findings of a recent study on wildlife habitat models used in the oil sands region. Four wildlife species; moose, beaver, fisher/marten, and Canada lynx are emphasized because of their cultural importance. The moose and beaver are considered Cultural Keystone species for the Fort McKay Community (Garibaldi 2006). Canada lynx, fisher, and marten are furbearers vital to the Fort McKay’s traditional economy. Fisher and marten are lumped together because of the difficultly in differentiating their snow tracks in the field. Sources of information for this report are as follows: 􀁸 Results of the Fort McKay Specific Assessment (FMSA); 􀁸 Results of modeling completed for the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) and Terrestrial Ecosystem Management Framework (TEMF); 􀁸 Aerial surveys completed by the Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD); 􀁸 Wildlife data collected in the oil sands region in support of environmental impact assessments; 􀁸 Population viability analysis (PVA) modelling reports completed in the oil sands region; and 􀁸 Analysis of habitat models used in the oil sands region completed by CEMA. In 2011, 1.7 million barrels of bitumen were produced in the oil sands region of Alberta. This quantity is expected to reach 3.5 million barrels per day by 2020 (Alberta Government 2012). We summarize modeling results that predict impacts from oil sands development. We also provide information that shows how the present project by project EIA process is failing to assess cumulative effects on wildlife. We provide recommendations that will reduce impacts and allow for the future recovery of wildlife in the Fort McKay’s Traditional Territory.
DELIVERING UNPOPULAR MESSAGES: Don’t just survive. Succeed!
Lorne Fitch, P. Biol.
We’d all like to deliver popular messages, the ones people want to hear, the positive and uncontroversial ones and those that evoke emotional responses like gratitude, pleasure and warmth. In a perfect world what other messages would there be to deliver? In that other sphere those that listen to messages would be well informed, rational, interested, motivated, knowledgeable and broad-minded. The fact that people, in this world, often don’t display these characteristics is not an indictment against them. It isn’t right, it isn’t wrong; it is just that way. As someone who is going to deliver an unpopular message it is the recognition that some responses are predictable, unsurprising and not totally unjustified. As the deliverer of that message, you are challenging the beliefs, perceptions and opinions of someone. Most people are driven by a combination of beliefs that are largely ill formed, lack crucial information and can be irrational because of other circumstances. There is a lack of time, application of critical thinking and interest to sort through a complex situation, until the message deliverer holds up a mirror forcing people to face the issues. Who wouldn’t be wracked with anxiety, anger or fear with that prospect?
Deliberative Democracy, Institution Building, and the Pragmatics of Cumulative Effects Assessment
Parkins, J. R.
Cumulative effects assessment is a process of scientific analysis, social choice, and public policy development, yet the linkages among these domains are often less than transparent. Limits to scientific and technical assessment, issues of power and control of information, and episodic forms of civic engagement represent serious challenges to meaningful understanding of cumulative effects assessment and land-use planning. In articulating these challenges, I draw on case studies from Ontario's Lands for Life and Alberta's Land-use Framework to illustrate current limitations to cumulative effects assessment on public lands in Canada. As a partial remedy for these limitations, insights into a pragmatic approach to impact assessment, in contrast to decisionistic and technocratic approaches, offer a way forward through a more robust integration of scientific information, civic engagement, and public policy development. I also identify a need for longer-standing institutions that are dedicated to regional planning and cumulative effects assessment in Canada.
Scenario Analysis to Identify Viable Conservation Strategies in Paraguay’s Imperiled Atlantic Forest
Carlson, M. J., R. Mitchell, and L. Rodriguez
A common challenge facing land use planning is assessment of the future performance of land use options. The challenge can be acute in developing regions where land use is expanding rapidly and funding and data needed for planning are scarce. To inform land use planning for a biosphere reserve located in Paraguay’s Atlantic forest region, a scenario analysis explored the relative merits of conventional and conservation agricultural practices, sustained yield forestry, and protection. Simulations compared the long-term impacts on land cover, biotic carbon, and income of the area’s residents. Ecological and economic decline were projected under conventional practices. Protection and forestry scenarios achieved only small relative improvements to ecological indicators at the cost of reduced economic performance. By addressing the underlying issue of land degradation, conservation agriculture including no-tillage was the most successful land use strategy both ecologically and economically. Identification of conservation agriculture as the most promising land use strategy prioritizes issues that must be addressed to achieve sustainability, most importantly the provision of education and funding to smallholder farmers. We conclude that scenario analysis offers a flexible strategy to integrate available data for the purpose of informing land use planning in data-limited regions such as Paraguay’s Atlantic forest.
Lorne Fitch, P. Biol.
It was a sight to behold and one greater to comprehend the eating of, that chocolate cream pie. We had whipped it together from graham cracker crumbs and chocolate pudding, shaken and then chilled in a snow bank on a backpacking trip. The anticipation of eating it brought me to the level of a child, thinking only of immediate gratification. My two companions showed considerably more restraint, electing to divide each of their respective thirds in half, to have a piece at breakfast the next morning. I ate my third immediately. The saved piece of pie was enclosed in a rock cairn to protect it from marauders. I was teased unmercifully about how good the remainder would taste in the morning, had I saved some of my pie. The early glow of morning light revealed the cairn had been transformed into a scatter of rocks. No pie remains were left and the aluminum pie plate retained gouges on its surface. A mule deer doe was beating a hasty retreat from the scene saving me from instant suspicion. But, a closer inspection of the crime scene with all the intensity of a CSI unit showed a porcupine was the culprit. Somewhere in the headwaters of the Castle River there may well be a line of porcupines still hardwired to remember a meal of non-wood, chocolate ambrosia tinged with a slight metallic aftertaste. It was my turn to laugh, since I had lost nothing in this porcupine perpetrated crime. The moral of the story, I pontificated, was that “gluttony is its own reward”. Saving a piece of the pie was foolish, because how could we predict the events of the future, and indeed the tragic loss of the saved pie? Eating it all, now, was the smart thing to do. It was only later, upon reflection that I realized how much the incident revealed of human nature and our province, if not the world.
Modeling Cumulative Effects in Barren-ground Caribou Range: Proceedings of a Workshop in Yellowknife
Jan Adamczewski, John Nishi, Anne Gunn, Terry Antoniuk, Chris Johnson, Don Russell, Ted Blondin, All
In the early 2000s, most herds of barren-ground caribou in the Northwest Territories (NWT) were declining. The declines aroused considerable concern in NWT communities because caribou have been a resource of great value to people in the north for many generations. Possible explanations for the declines include a natural cycle, variation in weather and forage conditions, predation, hunting, disease, and industrial development. Of these factors, some are beyond immediate control, but effects due to direct human influence, like hunting and development, can be managed. The impact of development on caribou is usually not due to single roads, mines, cut-blocks or seismic lines, rather it is the cumulative effects of many habitat alterations over time that affect caribou numbers and distribution. Concerns over effects of development on caribou have been raised in environmental assessments and particularly by aboriginal groups for many years, but progress on assessing them has been limited. To be objective, assessment of cumulative effects must account for other factors, including hunting and natural variation in weather. Due to the need for overall knowledge of a caribou herd‟s complex ecology in assessing cumulative effects, biologists have turned to computer models to help track multiple variables and relationships, and to look at “what if” simulations. While these models cannot predict the future, they can help users understand how various factors interact and what likely consequences of particular management decisions might be. In the 2006-2010 NWT Caribou Management Strategy, a commitment was made by the Government of the Northwest Territories to developing a modeling approach that could assess development in its proper context of natural variation. In this report we summarized the presentations and participant responses at a public workshop held in February 2008, Yellowknife, NWT, on modeling cumulative effects in the range of the Bathurst herd. In addition, we report on progress towards a demonstration project initiated at the February 2008 workshop.
Synthesis of Habitat Models used in the Oil Sands Region
Judy E. Muir, M.Sc., R.P.Bio. Virgil C. Hawkes, M.Sc., R.P.Bio., Krysia N. Tuttle, M.Sc. and Tony Mo
This project assessed the current state of habitat models used in oil sands region EIA and closure planning to meet the following objectives: 1. Determine which habitat models are used in EIAs and closure planning, and how these models were used; 2. Determine what linkages exist between the habitat model predictions in the EIAs and closure plans; 3. Determine which habitat models have been validated, and of these, describe and evaluate the validation procedures that were used on each model with recommendations for improvement if needed; and 4. Recommend procedures to validate non-validated models. These four objectives were addressed through the completion of four tasks: 1. Review and summarize EIA species habitat models used in the oil sands regions for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for oil sands project applications and for other projects such as wildlife habitat mapping. 2. Review and summarize how regional wildlife habitat mapping data, EIA habitat model data, and habitat models, are used to develop oil sands closure plans conducted by SEWG or for the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan (LARP) 3. Summarize the validation methods and status of existing validated models 4. Provide recommendations for validation procedures of non-validated models
Nighttime lights as proxy for the spatial growth of dense urbanized areas
Nighttime lights constitute a very appealing database that can be used to measure various different aspects of the human footprint on the planet. The amount of research and the number of publications around this dataset confirm this, offering a broad spectrum of applications that involve economics, energy, society and environment. I chose to use them to study the spatial extension and the relative distribution of settlements around the Earth and their evolution over time. I analyzed the DMSP-OLS ‘stable lights’ database of the NGCD consisting in a catalog of world images of the last 19 years. I discovered that the mean center of lights is moving steadily to South-East. This reflects the extreme growth experienced by the urban centers in the developing countries, especially in Asia. I further developed a version of the Gini coefficient to compare the statistical spatial dispersion of nighttime lights, unexpectedly finding that all the countries show a very similar inequality value, quickly converging to the same coefficient by raising the lower threshold of light detection. Further, I analyzed the evolution of the lit area at a country level and in the largest urban agglomerations, finding that whereas most developing countries and cities are experiencing an incredible spatial growth in illumination, some ‘historical’ conurbations present rather constant or even decreasing emissions. This could be a signal of success of the light pollution abatement programs launched in the last years.