Land-Use References

Year Title (Author, Description) File Download

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.

Contact ALCES for Mitchell, R. E., and J. R. Parkins, 2011

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

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.

Contact ALCES for Carlson, M. J., R. Mitchell, and L. Rodriguez, 2011

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

Contact ALCES for Judy E. Muir, M.Sc., R.P.Bio. Virgil C. Hawkes, M.Sc., R.P.Bio., Krysia N. Tuttle, M.Sc. and Tony Mo, 2011

The Anthropocene: From Global Change to Planetary Stewardship

Will Steffen, A ° sa Persson, Lisa Deutsch, Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams, Katherine Richardson, Ca

Over the past century, the total material wealth of humanity has been enhanced. However, in the twentyfirst century, we face scarcity in critical resources, the degradation of ecosystem services, and the erosion of the planet’s capability to absorb our wastes. Equity issues remain stubbornly difficult to solve. This situation is novel in its speed, its global scale and its threat to the resilience of the Earth System. The advent of the Anthropence, the time interval in which human activities now rival global geophysical processes, suggests that we need to fundamentally alter our relationship with the planet we inhabit. Many approaches could be adopted, ranging from geoengineering solutions that purposefully manipulate parts of the Earth System to becoming active stewards of our own life support system. The Anthropocene is a reminder that the Holocene, during which complex human societies have developed, has been a stable, accommodating environment and is the only state of the Earth System that we know for sure can support contemporary society. The need to achieve effective planetary stewardship is urgent. As we go further into the Anthropocene, we risk driving the Earth System onto a trajectory toward more hostile states from which we cannot easily return.

Contact ALCES for Will Steffen, A ° sa Persson, Lisa Deutsch, Jan Zalasiewicz, Mark Williams, Katherine Richardson, Ca, 2011

Modeling Rangeland Community Structure in ALCES Southern Alberta Sustainability Strategy (SASS)

Barry Adams and Brad Stelfox

Rangeland communities are not constant in structure (physiognomy), but change through time as they grow older, or when they are disturbed by various natural processes including fire, drought, and herbivory. Unlike forest communities, rangelands do not have to be reset to the youngest seral stage when they are affected by a natural disturbance. Instead, structural change varies depending on the intensity of the disturbance. The purpose of modeling rangeland in SASS is to simulate and compare rangeland structure under various future land use and development scenarios, and to use these results in modeling changes to wildlife habitat values. Modeling in SASS is at a regional scale and is over a 50-year time period. The study area is more or less comprised of the South Saskatchewan watershed, which is about 20% of the total area of Alberta.

Contact ALCES for Barry Adams and Brad Stelfox, 2011

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.

Contact ALCES for Melissa Logan, P.Biol., Billie Milholland, B.A., and David Trew, P.Biol., 2012

Eating Tomorrow

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

Models and Data: What are they saying about cumulative effects on wildlife species important to the community of Fort McKay

Lorne Gould

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.

Contact ALCES for Lorne Gould, 2012


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
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