|Year||Title (Author, Description)||File Download|
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|
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).
|Contact ALCES for 02 Planning + Design Inc., 2009|
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.
|Contact ALCES for 02 Planning + Design Inc., 2008|
Ecological basis for stand management: A synthesis of ecological responses to wildfire and harvesting
Samantha Song (editor)
Public concern over the ecological impacts of clearcutting and loss of old growth forest, as well as the increased knowledge of natural disturbance dynamics of forests, has prompted a number of agencies in North America to re-evaluate forest practices. Increasingly, in an attempt to address these concerns, many government departments and corporations have released new policies and guidelines to supplement or replace the current suite of harvesting practices with a broader range of approaches that are intended to use natural disturbance as a model. Generally, the intent of the natural disturbance template is that biotic systems adapted to natural disturbance may be better managed under a harvesting regime that attempts to emulate those disturbances rather than under existing clearcutting practices. This represents a different focus for altering harvest practices than models that aim to protect old forest seral stages, although there are many overlapping components. The objective of the Ecological Basis for Stand Management project was to review, synthesize, and evaluate the ecological basis for harvest practices at the stand level in boreal mixedwood forests. Our approach critically assessed two strategies for forest management: management for old growth seral stages, and management to emulate natural disturbances, particularly wildfire. Using a chronosequence approach and with some re-analysis of existing data, we reviewed the ecological effects of wildfires on forests, then compared with clearcutting and retention of residual trees. We compared ecological elements at each seral stage to old seral stage forests. We also documented existing information on biotic responses to riparian areas and forest edges.
|Contact ALCES for Samantha Song (editor), 2002|
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.
|Contact ALCES for Lorne Fitch, P. Biol., 2012|
Development of a Threshold Approach for Assessing Industrial Impacts on Woodland Caribou in Yukon
Robert B. Anderson, M.Sc., P.Biol., R.B.Bio. Simon J. Dyer, M.Sc., P.Biol. Shawn R. Francis, M.Sc.,
To date, no jurisdiction in Canada has established, implemented and enforced cumulative effects thresholds for industrial activity in woodland caribou range. Instead, guidelines and regulations have been put in place in an attempt to minimize and mitigate the impacts of individual development projects on caribou. Under this system of management, many caribou populations throughout the provinces are either the focus of concern or have been extirpated from former ranges. In some situations, caribou ranges have already been severely impacted and will require a great deal of effort, financial resources, and political will to return habitat effectiveness to an acceptable level. Yukon has a unique opportunity to develop and implement cumulative effects thresholds for caribou range prior to large-scale industrial development over significant areas. This must be initiated now if Yukon wishes to have healthy caribou populations in perpetuity. The current report is intended to assess potential threshold approaches and recommend a methodology for setting industrial thresholds for woodland caribou range in Yukon. The criteria for recommending a threshold development strategy was that it: 1) be directly relevant to caribou ecology, 2) truly assess cumulative effects of known human influences on caribou, 3) be able to suggest a clear threshold, and 4) be usable and acceptable by a wide range of stakeholders. Based on a literature review, experience from other jurisdictions, and consideration of the Yukon situation, it was concluded that the most appropriate method for developing cumulative effects thresholds for Yukon caribou range was the habitat effectiveness approach, whether it be based on a full habitat effectiveness model or simply a total zone of influence. This approach addresses the influence of industrial activity on caribou ecology, includes cumulative effects from several disturbance types, can be related to clear thresholds, and generally meets the criteria of being usable and acceptable by a wide range of stakeholders. Although habitat effectiveness calculations incorporate, in a general sense, the importance of human features in changing mortality rates due to humans and other predators, and the effects of spatial distribution of harvest on caribou habitat effectiveness, there are obvious limitations to this relatively simple threshold approach. Range-specific factors, such as predator density, or distance to human settlements, may influence caribou recruitment and survival differently, despite ranges having similar habitat effectiveness values. Despite these limitations, setting of thresholds represents a risk management exercise for development of industrial activity in caribou range, and is a more defensible management technique than the alternative approaches (projectspecific mitigation strategies), which have largely failed in other jurisdictions Most elements required for the development and implementation of the habitat effectiveness approach within Yukon already exist. The data required to set a threshold for Yukon caribou range are either already in existence, or could be acquired in a timely fashion. The technical expertise and technological resources required to implement thresholds currently exist in Yukon and are fully capable of developing the tools needed to assess proposed projects and undertake long-term range planning. The coordination of these activities among government agencies and existing management structures will be the greatest challenge to implementing a threshold approach for Yukon.
|Contact ALCES for Robert B. Anderson, M.Sc., P.Biol., R.B.Bio. Simon J. Dyer, M.Sc., P.Biol. Shawn R. Francis, M.Sc., , 2002|
Demand Letter to Minister Prentice
Jack Woodward, Woodward & Co. LLP
We are legal counsel for Beaver Lake Cree Nation, Enoch Cree Nation, Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation and Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation (collectively, the “First Nations Petitioners”) in respect of this matter. We write on behalf of the First Nations Petitioners to request that you take immediate steps to protect the full ranges of the remaining woodland caribou herds in northeastern Alberta by preventing any further industrial activity anywhere within those ranges. Leading woodland caribou biologists have been recommending this course of action to you and to your ministry (Environment Canada) for several years. You and your ministry have also known for several years about the precipitous decline of woodland caribou in northeastern Alberta, but to date you have done nothing to protect woodland caribou or their habitat.
|Contact ALCES for Jack Woodward, Woodward & Co. LLP, 2010|
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?
|Contact ALCES for Lorne Fitch, P. Biol., 2006|
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.
|Contact ALCES for Parkins, J. R., 2011|
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|