ALCES Based Project Reports

Year Title (Author, Description) File Download
2008

Towards Acceptable Change: A Thresholds Approach to Manage Cumulative Effects of Land Use Change in the Southern Foothills of Alberta

Peggy Holroyd; Univ. of Calgary Dissertation

In September 2005, a group of landowners, industry, environmental groups and local governments launched an ALCES project to assess the cumulative impact of future land use in southwest Alberta, called the Southern Foothills Study (SFS). The project was created in response to local concerns over the potential impact of growing land use development and the desire for a stakeholder-driven land use planning process. At the outset of the project, three components of environmental and socioeconomic value were identified by the SFS members: fescue grassland, grizzly bears, and water. This research builds upon the work of the SFS to look at how thresholds can be used to help manage the cumulative effects of land use activity on the valued ecosystem components. Candidate thresholds for the valued components were identified through a literature review and interviews with key informants. In a workshop with member of the SFS, the candidate thresholds were evaluated from a social perspective. Alternative scenarios of development were developed to explore the implications of setting thresholds on land use development and activity. Recommendations for thresholds-based management of cumulative effects are provided, considering regulatory and land management processes in Alberta.

Towards-Acceptable-Change.pdf
2008

Chief Mountain Study Executive Summary

Silvatech Consulting

Background The Chief Mountain Study (CMS) is a grassroots driven study directed by a multistakeholder, consensus-based working group that includes government, industry, First Nations, landowners, NGO’s and Parks Canada. The study arose from local concern about land-use trends and their associated long-term impacts on landscape level indicators such as groundwater stocks, surface water quality, grizzly bear, and native grasslands. The study area is located in the southwestern portion of Alberta including: Cardston County, the Municipal District of Pincher Creek, the Kainai and Piikani First Nations’ reserves and Waterton National Park. The area covers roughly 925,000 hectares (2.28 million acres) and is predominantly cultivated agriculture (43% of study area), native origin grasslands (30% of study area) and forests (18% of study area). Human footprint currently covers about 2% of the study area. • Key Findings of the Study Emerging Land use Trends • Growth in settlements and transportation networks represent significant threats to grassland integrity in the region. • Acreages are on track to surpass agricultural residences in area. • Wind turbines are becoming a significant land use. They have a relatively small footprint but a potentially high visual impact. • The area needed for recreational activities is increasing rapidly and is expected to surpass the energy sector footprint before 2057. • Hydrocarbon sector footprint growth is projected to be relatively low compared with other land uses. • Conventional oil, natural gas, and coal bed methane activity is projected to be substantially less than projected in the adjacent Southern Foothills Study. Emerging Environmental Trends • The amount of water held in shallow groundwater aquifers is declining. • Livestock and humans are primarily responsible for the continuing declines in surface water quality. • Native grassland integrity (area presence) is projected to decline. • Forest fragmentation is forecasted to increase. • Grizzly Bear populations are likely to decline. Study Description The purpose of the study was to assess the potential cumulative effects of land use and footprint growth within the study area if their current trends continue for the next 50 years. The ALCES computer simulation model was chosen to assist with projection, analysis and reporting of the changes brought about by natural ecological processes and human land-use. The CMS assessed 4 scenarios: a base case & 3 sensitivity scenarios. The base case scenario simulated the way things are occurring today to continue over the next 50 years and is intended to be used as a benchmark for comparing outcomes tested in other scenarios or sensitivities. Model projections into the future are never made with total certainty. Sensitivity analysis is an approach designed to help assess risk and uncertainty associated with model assumptions. This study included 3 sensitivity analyses; 2 were based on changing land use rates of development and 1 was based on assessing the risk associated with the range of estimates from the best available data about current groundwater aquifer volumes. Land Use Sectors Modelled The CMS modelled human-based activity including: energy & mining, forestry, agriculture & livestock, transportation, human settlements, general industry, and recreation. The CMS also modelled natural processes including fire and insect disturbance events. Model data was obtained from: the Southern Alberta Sustainability Strategy (Government of Alberta), Southern Foothills Study, Apache Canada Ltd., Shell Canada, Statistics Canada, Canadian Wind Energy Association, Hydrogeological Consultants Ltd., CMS stakeholder group, Forem Technologies and Silvatech Consulting Ltd.

Chief-Mountain-Study-Executive-Summary.pdf
2007

Seeking a Balance: Assessing the Future Impacts of Conservation and Development in the Mackenzie Watershed

Matt Carlson, Erin Bayne, Brad Stelfox; Canadian Boreal Initiative

This study explored how development of the Mackenzie watershed’s natural resources may transform the region over the next 100 years. Our intention was two-fold. First, at a general level, we sought to increase awareness of the Mackenzie watershed and how impending economic development may alter one of the world’s most intact ecosystems. Second, and more importantly, we evaluated the capacity of the Boreal Forest Conservation Framework to balance economic development with conservation of the watershed’s ecological integrity. To explore the future effects of development to the Mackenzie watershed, land-use simulations were conducted for the AlbertaPacific Forest Management Agreement area (Al-Pac FMA) in northeastern Alberta and a southern portion of the Dehcho Territory (southern Dehcho) in the Northwest Territories. The Al-Pac FMA is one of the most heavily developed portions of this watershed and contains a substantial portion of the Athabasca oil sands, which is the second largest oil deposit in the world. The southern Dehcho is rich in gas deposits but, unlike the Al-Pac FMA, development has been limited to date. Together, these two study areas provided an opportunity to assess and compare development impacts and conservation opportunities in areas where the allocation of natural resources to development is currently high (Al-Pac FMA) and low (southern Dehcho). The effects of development over a 100-year time frame were assessed using the ALCES computer model. ALCES simulated land use in each study area under two development scenarios. A business-as-usual scenario was simulated to explore the effects of expected resource development and conventional conservation strategies. A Boreal Forest Conservation Framework (Framework) scenario was also simulated to explore the effects of an increased conservation effort. In keeping with the Framework, the scenario consisted of increased levels of protection and strategies to mitigate disturbance from resource development. The conservation strategies implemented in the Framework scenario reflected those proposed by Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries and the Dehcho First Nations. In the Al-Pac FMA, the strategies were to increase the area protected from three percent to six percent of the study area, to maintain old forest in the managed landscape, and to minimize the area impacted by industrial disturbances. In the southern Dehcho, the strategies were to increase the area protected from zero to 48 percent of the study area and to minimize the area impacted by industrial disturbances. In both study areas, the business-as-usual scenario resulted in an increased density of linear disturbances and a decreased area of older productive softwood forest. Changes to the density of linear disturbances and area of older productive softwood forest often exceeded disturbance thresholds that have been proposed to protect against negative effects to wildlife, which suggested that business-as-usual development is not sustainable. The conservation strategies that formed the Framework scenario reduced landscape disturbance, often to within the boundaries of disturbance thresholds. In the southern Dehcho, the density of linear disturbances remained below the disturbance threshold and half of the study area was kept free from industrial disturbance. Decline in the area of older productive softwood forest was not avoided because non-productive forest dominated the protected areas, thus illustrating the importance of adequately protecting all forest types. In the Al-Pac FMA, application of the Framework scenario was able to avoid decline in the area of older productive softwood forest. The linear disturbance threshold was exceeded, however, demonstrating that it will be challenging to avoid negative ecological effects of development in the southern Mackenzie watershed. The ecological implications of simulated landscape transformations were evaluated in greater detail by assessing impacts to woodland caribou and bird populations. The assessment was completed using wildlife models based on data collected from northern Alberta. Five bird species were included: the blackthroated green warbler, bay-breasted warbler and Canada warbler, which are species associated with older forest; the ovenbird, which is a species associated with mature forest; and the white-throated sparrow, which is a species associated with younger forest and much more common than the others. Simulations of a business-as-usual scenario predicted that the woodland caribou population would decline in both study areas, indicating that the species is likely to be extirpated unless conservation strategies are improved. In the southern Dehcho, the simulation predicted a 21-percent decline in ovenbird and bay-breasted warbler populations and a 32-percent decline in a

Seeking-a-Balance.pdf
2008

Chief Mountain Study - A Forecast of Land Use Cumulative Effects (presentation)

Barry Wilson and Mark Hudson, Silvatech Consulting

Background The Chief Mountain Study (CMS) is a grassroots driven study directed by a multistakeholder, consensus-based working group that includes government, industry, First Nations, landowners, NGO’s and Parks Canada. The study arose from local concern about land-use trends and their associated long-term impacts on landscape level indicators such as groundwater stocks, surface water quality, grizzly bear, and native grasslands. The study area is located in the southwestern portion of Alberta including: Cardston County, the Municipal District of Pincher Creek, the Kainai and Piikani First Nations’ reserves and Waterton National Park. The area covers roughly 925,000 hectares (2.28 million acres) and is predominantly cultivated agriculture (43% of study area), native origin grasslands (30% of study area) and forests (18% of study area). Human footprint currently covers about 2% of the study area. • Key Findings of the Study Emerging Land use Trends • Growth in settlements and transportation networks represent significant threats to grassland integrity in the region. • Acreages are on track to surpass agricultural residences in area. • Wind turbines are becoming a significant land use. They have a relatively small footprint but a potentially high visual impact. • The area needed for recreational activities is increasing rapidly and is expected to surpass the energy sector footprint before 2057. • Hydrocarbon sector footprint growth is projected to be relatively low compared with other land uses. • Conventional oil, natural gas, and coal bed methane activity is projected to be substantially less than projected in the adjacent Southern Foothills Study. Emerging Environmental Trends • The amount of water held in shallow groundwater aquifers is declining. • Livestock and humans are primarily responsible for the continuing declines in surface water quality. • Native grassland integrity (area presence) is projected to decline. • Forest fragmentation is forecasted to increase. • Grizzly Bear populations are likely to decline. Study Description The purpose of the study was to assess the potential cumulative effects of land use and footprint growth within the study area if their current trends continue for the next 50 years. The ALCES computer simulation model was chosen to assist with projection, analysis and reporting of the changes brought about by natural ecological processes and human land-use. The CMS assessed 4 scenarios: a base case & 3 sensitivity scenarios. The base case scenario simulated the way things are occurring today to continue over the next 50 years and is intended to be used as a benchmark for comparing outcomes tested in other scenarios or sensitivities. Model projections into the future are never made with total certainty. Sensitivity analysis is an approach designed to help assess risk and uncertainty associated with model assumptions. This study included 3 sensitivity analyses; 2 were based on changing land use rates of development and 1 was based on assessing the risk associated with the range of estimates from the best available data about current groundwater aquifer volumes. Land Use Sectors Modelled The CMS modelled human-based activity including: energy & mining, forestry, agriculture & livestock, transportation, human settlements, general industry, and recreation. The CMS also modelled natural processes including fire and insect disturbance events. Model data was obtained from: the Southern Alberta Sustainability Strategy (Government of Alberta), Southern Foothills Study, Apache Canada Ltd., Shell Canada, Statistics Canada, Canadian Wind Energy Association, Hydrogeological Consultants Ltd., CMS stakeholder group, Forem Technologies and Silvatech Consulting Ltd.

Chief-Mountain-Study-Final-Results-Presentation.pdf
2009

Valuation of water quantity for the Bow River Basin

Jonathan Holmes

An approach, and computation of estimating water quantity for the Bow River Basin in Alberta

Jonathan-Holmes-WATER-QUANTITY.docx
2009

Estimating the cost of water quality for the Bow River Basin in Alberta

Jonathan Holmes

Jonathan Holmes offer thoughts on approaches for computing water quality.

Jonathan-Holmes-WATER-QUALITY.docx
2004

Southern Alberta Landscapes: Meeting the Challenges Ahead - Input-Output Model

Suren Kulshreshtha and Russell Consulting

GoA Report on Economic Input Output Model involving ALCES

Input-Output-Economic-Models-for-Southern-Alberta-Landscapes.pdf
2007

The Changing Landscape of the Southern Alberta Foothills

Southern Alberta Land Trust and Brad Stelfox

Report of the Southern Foothills Study Business as Usual Scenario and Public Survey

Southern-Foothills-Study-Phase-1-and-2.pdf
2008

State of Baptiste Lake Watershed

Matt Carlson, ALCES Group - for the Baptiste Lake Watershed Stewardship Group

In response to concerns regarding the health of lakes in the region, summer villages at Baptiste, Island and Skeleton Lakes have formed the Baptiste, Island, and Skeleton Lakes Watershed Management and Lake Stewardship Council (BISL). BISL's vision for Baptiste Lake is to "maintain a healthy lake and watershed, recognizing the importance of living within the capacity of the natural environment and providing sustainable recreational, residential, agricultural, and industrial benefits". The State of the Watershed report contributes to achieving the vision by describing the current condition of the Baptiste Lake and its watershed, and assessing potential strategies to improve the health of the lake and watershed.

State-of-Baptiste-Lake-Watershed-report-2008.pdf
2009

Cumulative Effects Assessment of the North Saskatchewan River Watershed using ALCES

Dr. Michael Sullivan, ALCES Group - for the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance

The North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance (NSWA) was designated in 2005 as the Watershed Planning and Advisory Council (WPAC) for the North Saskatchewan River basin, under Water for Life: Alberta's Strategy for Sustainability. Part of its mandate as a WPAC is to prepare an Integrated Watershed Management Plan (IWMP) for the North Saskatchewan River Basin (NSRB). This plan will include advice to the government of Alberta regarding the watershed values and trade-offs that are acceptable to a broad spectrum of stakeholders. As part of their work towards the IWMP, the NSWA desired to gain a better understanding of long-term, cumulative impacts of development on the watershed, and to highlight potential conflicts between development and sustainability. The NSWA engaged the ALCES® Group to undertake a high-level, strategic and exploratory cumulative effects modeling for the NSRB. Specifically, the NSWA-ALCES® cumulative effects assessment project is intended to simulate the effects of major land uses in the watershed (agriculture, forestry, urban, and petrochemical industry) on specific watershed “values” (i.e., biodiversity, landscape integrity, water quality, and water quantity) over a 100 year time span.

Cumulative-Effects-of-Land-Uses-in-the-North-Saskatchewan-River-Watershessd.pdf
2005

Looking Ahead: An Assessment of Potential Land Use Trends in Strathcona County

Daniel Farr and Brad Stelfox

Strathcona County is a unique municipality located northeast of Edmonton in Alberta's Capital Region. The juxtaposition of urban and rural areas governed by a single municipality has created an economically and culturally diverse community. It includes the hamlet of Sherwood Park, plus eight smaller hamlets, 900 farms and numerous country residential developments. Historically an agricultural-dominated area, the economic base of the region has evolved to include oil refineries, manufacturing and other heavy industry, and diverse retail and commercial operations. The County is strongly influenced by its proximity to the City of Edmonton, which is the commercial and transportation hub of northern Alberta. Edmonton provides numerous economic opportunities for Strathcona County businesses, and County residents frequently travel to and from Edmonton for work, recreation, health care, and a wide range of other metropolitan services. In turn, the County is also a destination for many Edmonton residents seeking a range of recreational and other activities. Steady growth in the urban and rural population, and a desire to grow and diversify the economy while maintaining traditional land uses such as agriculture, make it challenging to plan future land use development. The purpose of this study is to assess competing land uses and the cumulative effects of land use planning decisions in and around Strathcona County. A modeling approach is used to forecast

ALCES_Strathcona_Land_Use_Report.pdf
2011

Upper Bow River Basin Cumulative Effects Study - Brochure

Terry Antoniuk and Cornel Yarmoloy

The Upper Bow River Basin Cumulative Effects Study (UBBCES) was initiated by concerned citizens, groups, and organizations to investigate and better understand the potential cumulative effects that all land-uses could have on water availability, water quality, and other natural values in the Upper Bow River basin. The Steering Committee directing this study identified five primary concerns about social and environmental health and, in consultation with the authors, selected seven ecological and social indicators to represent these concerns. 
 Issue / Concern Indicator(s) Will there be enough water to meet the future needs of industry, acreages, Calgary residents, ranchers, farmers, and fish? - Surface water flow in Bow River at Carseland Weir reported as yearly total flow (in cubic metres). Will our children and grandchildren be able to rely on the Bow River and its tributaries for clean drinking water? - Relative Water Quality Index at Carseland Weir reported as value of combined nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment load relative to simulated non-industrial (natural) conditions. - Index of Native Foothills Fish Integrity reported as community health value relative to simulated non-industrial (natural) conditions. Will groundwater levels remain stable, decline, or increase? - Shallow groundwater supply reported as total volume at year end (in cubic metres). Will working farms and ranches remain? - Agricultural land area reported as ha in cropland, forage, and pasture. Will there be undisturbed natural areas that supply clean water and provide places in which our children and grandchildren can visit, hike, bike, and watch wildlife? - Unroaded 'natural' areas reported as areas greater than 200 m from linear corridors and man- made clearings. - Grizzly Bear Mortality Index reported as relative risk of bear death compared to simulated non-industrial (natural) conditions. The ALCES landscape cumulative effects (A Landscape Cumulative Effects Simulator) dynamic landscape model was used for this study to forecast the response of the seven indicators to different development approaches. Work was conducted in two phases. In Phase 1, relevant information was collected and the ALCES model was used to forecast potential outcomes of a ‘business as usual’ scenario. For Phase 2, the model was used to evaluate the potential benefits of applying ‘best practices’ identified by the Calgary Metropolitan Plan and Southern Foothills Study. Today, the Upper Bow River watershed is the most densely populated river basin in the province and the once wild, free flowing Upper Bow River has become the province's most controlled river with numerous dams and water diversions. These changes have allowed the region to prosper, but have created unplanned and unexpected effects on water quality, groundwater, wildlife, fish, and natural areas. The agriculture, residential, transportation, forestry, and energy sectors are the main human activities that have changed water and wildlife values in the basin over the last century. ALCES Phase 1 simulations suggested that continued population growth and demand for homes and resources will continue to convert agricultural lands and natural areas over the next two generations. Phase 2 best practices simulations identified some practical actions that municipalities, ranchers, resource companies, farmers, acreage owners, and city dwellers can initiate to minimize their direct and indirect effects on the region's waters, wildlife, and quality of life. 
 Surface Water Supply Water demand will increase in the Upper Bow River basin over the next two generations. With increasing water demand, withdrawals are projected to remove about 4% of total yearly flow under average conditions and up to 18% under low flow conditions. This suggests that in there will be enough surface water for all users upstream of the Carseland weir during average flow years. However, flows will become more variable and seasonal shortfalls are likely, particularly during dry years. The largest future demands for surface water come from Calgary and other communities. Phase 2 simulations confirm that domestic water conservation measures proposed by the City of Calgary will reduce average annual surface withdrawals by 1% over the next 70 years, a yearly reduction of about 151 million cubic metres. Continued emphasis on water conservation by other land-use sectors would also reduce risk of future supply shortfalls. The recently developed Bow River Operational Model (AWRI 2010) also suggests that flow manipulation can be used to accommodate future water demand while maintaining minimum flows and without negatively affecting water quality. 
 Water Quality UBBCES Phase 1 and 2 simulations indicate that the agriculture sector is currently the largest source of land-use nutrient and sediment loading in the Upper Bow basin. The residential sector and transportation sector are also relatively large sources of nutrients and sediment that reduce water quality. As land-use increases to support the growing regional population, nutrient and sediment loading will increase over the next 70 years, and further reduce water quality. Full implementation of best practices will be required to achieve the Bow River Basin Council's objective of maintaining or enhancing existing water quality (BRBC 2008). Best practices simulations demonstrate that measures being implemented by, or proposed by, the Calgary Metropolitan Plan and City of Calgary would have substantial benefits. Voluntary stewardship programs such as 'Cows and Fish' and 'Ranchers of the Jumpingpound' are beneficial. If all agricultural operators in the basin adopted best practices identified here, future nutrient and sediment loading would be reduced by as much as 50%, and this would help maintain downstream water quality. Adopting best practices such as maintaining a native vegetation buffer along streams and improving planning of future residential development would benefit water quality, fish, wildlife, and recreational users, and potentially decrease municipal water treatment costs. Other best practices would have local benefits that would also contribute to improved downstream water quality and integrity.
 Groundwater Supply Although data are very limited, computer simulations suggest that we are slowly depleting shallow groundwater in the Upper Bow River basin and that this decline will continue over the next 70 years. This drawdown is happening for two reasons: 1) we are pumping groundwater from wells faster than it is being naturally recharged; and 2) we are building more impervious 'hard' surfaces like roads and communities that reduce the groundwater recharge. The gap between withdrawal and recharge appears to be widening. At a local scale this will likely mean groundwater depletion in many of the more heavily populated rural residential areas and significant planning challenges for municipalities and developers. This could also reduce the amount of water available in the Bow River and its tributaries during winter and summer low flow periods when groundwater inflow into the river is important. While we currently have limited information about this unseen water source, given shallow groundwater's importance for future generations, recommendations to measure and manage it as carefully as we do our surface waters should be implemented. 
 Working Farms and Ranches Projections suggest that working farms and ranches will continue to be lost from the Upper Bow River basin as they are converted to acreage and residential development. The Calgary Metropolitan Plan lays out a new vision for urban and rural growth in the Upper Bow basin. This vision is designed to minimize future human footprint growth by almost 80,000 ha (to 123,100 ha instead of 202,600 ha) by increasing community and commercial density within communities and 'nodes', and protecting sensitive natural areas. UBBCES Phase 2 simulations suggest that just over one quarter of this reduced footprint (21,500 ha) could be retained as working farms and ranches. Natural Areas and Wildlife Relatively undisturbed 'natural' area has declined over the last century to three-quarters of the Upper Bow River basin. UBBCES Phase 1 and 2 projections show that the existing land-use transportation and infrastructure network in the Upper Bow River basin will need to expand substantially. This will reduce undisturbed natural area to just under 60% of the basin in 70 years with business as usual assumptions. The Calgary Metropolitan Plan's vision for reduced urban and rural residential growth would allow an additional 63,900 ha to remain unconverted in 70 years. This would also help maintain foothill and prairie grasslands which are poorly represented in the current protected areas network. Past increases in roads and disturbed area have resulted in documented declines in native fish and grizzly bear abundance, and modelling projections indicate that further declines are likely. Once access has been created, it has been very difficult to restrict public use, so managers lose the ability to fully reclaim corridors and reduce undesirable changes on bears, native fish, and sediment runoff. Phase 2 simulations show that access management to control human use of roads would benefit grizzly bears, native fish and other sensitive species by reducing legal and illegal mortality (an indirect effect of land-use).

UBBCES_Brochure_-Phase-2_Final_19052011.pdf
2011

Powerpoint Presentation: An Assessment of the Cumulative Effects of Land Uses in the Ghost River Watershed, Alberta - Presentation

Cornel Yarmoloy and Brad Stelfox

Refer to report under same name.

Ghost_Presentation----Cornel-Yarmoloy-and-Brad-Stelfox--Feb2011-.pdf
2003

Grizzly Bear Habitat Selection and Mortality Coefficients of Southern Alberta: Estimates for the Southern Alberta Regional Strategy (SARS)-ALCES Project

Scott Nielsen and Mark Boyce

Southern Alberta has witnessed substantial recent growth in local human population concurrent with an increasing demand on natural resources. This growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. A Southern Alberta Region Strategy (SARS) was formed to address potential economic and ecological benefits and/or impacts of projected regional change. To examine these relationships in a quantitative and structured manner, SARS settled on the use of A Landscape Cumulative Effects Simulator (ALCES). One resource sector outlined in SARS and modeled in ALCES is wildlife, with grizzly bears (Ursus arctos L.) chosen as one focal conservation species for the process. Grizzly bears are a species of special concern in Alberta, currently considered 'may be at risk'. For the ALCES modeling process, information on habitat relationships or habitat suitability indices (HSI) are required. In this report we describe the results of empirical modeling exercises undertaken to provide coefficients of habitat selection and mortality. We further provide suggestions for incorporating the two indices into a single synthetic index we refer to as exposure.

Southern-Alberta-ALCES-and-Grizzly-Bear-Habitat-Modeling.pdf
2008

Alberta Southern East Slopes Integrated Land Management Pilot Project (draft)

Brad Stelfox, Mark Anielski, Matt Carlson and Terry Antoniuk

The Southern East Slopes Integrated Land Management Pilot Project (SES Pilot) used a real landscape and real data from southwest Alberta to evaluate how selected ecological and economic ‘performance’ outcomes could be achieved through different land management scenarios and how such integrated evaluations might be of use for policy analysis, economic trade-off analysis, and land use decision making. Economic and ecological indicators were developed using an integrated Genuine Wealth Accounting system (i.e. integration of natural, financial, and social capital accounts) to account for the physical and qualitative conditions and the monetary value, where possible, of key ecological assets, including water, carbon, and land. These indicators were then used to simulate potential trade-offs among market and non-market resource values using the ALCES© model, including the influence of pre-defined land management objectives on these indicators.

ASPEN-Southern-East-Slopes-Report-_Draft-250908_.pdf
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.

ALCES-Rangeland-Dynamics-Module--prepared-by-Barry-Adams.pdf
2012

Ghost River Watershed Cumulative Effects Study

Dr. Brad Stelfox, Cornel Yarmoloy

The watershed of the Ghost River lies in the upstream shadow of the burgeoning metropolis of Calgary and its surrounding bedroom communities. The Ghost River watershed possesses an exceptional abundance of natural resources, including forests, grasslands, rivers, diverse flora and fauna, and majestic scenery. It also hosts an abundance of consumptive natural resources including wood fiber, livestock forage, hydrocarbons, and wildlife and fish. During recent decades, a rapid increase in intensity of several landuses has occurred, as forestry, livestock grazing, oil and gas extraction, rural residential, hunting, and non-motorized and motorized recreation have all grown to satisfy increasing regional demand. The historical management paradigm of the Government of Alberta for the East Slopes is best described as “multiple use”. This strategy reflects the belief that multiple overlapping land uses can co-occur without meaningfully compromising the performance of key ecological, social, and economic indicators. Increasingly, quantitative and subjective assessments by the scientific community and the public have shown that the laissez-faire nature of the government’s “multiple use” formula is no longer serving society well. In 2011, a Phase 1 report examining the cumulative effects of “business-as-usual” land uses within the Ghost River watershed identified a number of challenges to maintaining acceptable performance levels of ecological, industrial, and recreation indicators. Projections using the ALCES landscape simulator (www.alces.ca) quantified past and potential future declines in water quality, recreation potential, fish and wildlife indicators, and problems with sustainable forestry. The Phase I report can be downloaded from http://www.ghostwatershed.ca/GWAS/Home.html. The Ghost River Watershed Alliance Society received funding from the Alberta Ecotrust Foundation and the Calgary Foundation to explore and assess beneficial management practices (BMP) that have the potential to improve performance of indicators relative to the business-as-usual (BAU) practices explored in Phase 1. Through a series of four independently facilitated workshops, the GWAS sought to engage local and regional communities, recreationalists, and government representatives in exploring potential solutions to enhance sustainable land stewardship for the watershed. Information obtained from these workshops was augmented with data obtained from other relevant projects examining the interface between BMP and ecological goods and services in Alberta’s east slopes. Based on guidance obtained from BMP workshops and other studies (Southern Foothills Study, Upper Bow Basin Cumulative Effects Study, South Saskatchewan Regional Plan), the following issues and BMP were explored for the Ghost River Study: Issue: High level of landscape fragmentation BMP: -Accelerated rates of reclamation of linear features such as seismic lines, minor roads, inblock forestry roads, and non-designated off-highway vehicle trails Issue: High levels of vehicle accessibility BMP: -Restriction of off-highway vehicle (OHV) activity to an engineered and designated OHV trail system that minimizes adverse effects on erosion and wildlife and provides safe and enjoyable OHV activity. -Enforcement increased to minimize off-highway vehicle use on non-designated trails and contain use to a designated vehicle trail network Issue: High Level of Watershed Discontinuity BMP: Increased replacement of “washed out” or “hung” stream culverts Issue: Loss of Riparian Habitat, Forest Structure, Wood Security BMP: -Reduction of current annual allowable forestry harvest commensurate with increased in-block retention of trees, and increased buffers along watercourses and ephemeral streams Issue: Reduced Water Quality from Elevated Nutrient Runoff BMP: -Increased protective buffers along streams found within cutblocks and in croplands -Restrictions of livestock from streams through off-stream watering and salting -Accelerated reclamation of unvegetated trails that are not part of the designated trail network Issue: Reduced Water Quality caused by human waste BMP: -Provision of sanitation facilities at trail heads and designated campsites Installment of advanced septic field technologies at rural residential sites Relative to the “business-as-usual” simulations, the simulated adoption of beneficial management practices in the Ghost River Watershed improved all ecological indicators. Landscape level improvements in ecological indicators included a decrease in Grizzly Bear Mortality index, an increase in the Index of Native Fish Integrity, an improvement in water quality, an increase in recreation potential of the watershed, and a level of forest harvest that is more likely to be sustainable. The results of this study highlight the significant opportunities to government agencies, land use sectors, and various recreational groups, to minimize loss of ecological goods and services and improve the sustainability of the Ghost River Watershed. Justification for adopting these practices are equally defensible from social, economic, and ecological perspectives. This work by the Ghost River Watershed Alliance Society is intended to catalyze a new conversation about sustainable management of the Ghost River watershed based on full cost accounting of a comprehensive list of performance indicators. The take-home message of this project is decidedly pro-landuse, but one in which land-use decisions functionally “optimize” (not maximize) a full suite of socio-economic and ecological indicators. Although this Phase II report is written with the intent that it is a stand-alone document, stakeholders are encouraged to read the Phase I report as it contains additional information relating to the business-as-usual scenario.

Ghost_Watershed_Cumulative_Effects_Study_Phase_II-_Beneficial_Management_Practices.pdf
2006

Southern Alberta Landscapes: Meeting the Challenges Ahead - Export Coefficients for Total Phosphorus, Total Nitrogen and Total Suspended Solids in the Southern Alberta Region - A literature review

Yetunde Jeje

The objectives of the literature review were to: 1) 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, 2) 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: 9 Native Prairie classes, 6 Agriculture classes, 7 Forest Area classes and 4 Miscellaneous (4) classes for input in the ALCES computer simulation model currently under development, 3) 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, and 4) 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.

Nutrient_Export_Coefficients_for_ALCES_in_SASS_Project_Yetunde_Jeje_2006.pdf
2007

A Comparison of Land Use Options for the Mbaracayu Biosphere Reserve - Final Report

Matt Carlson

Unplanned and unsustainable land use has transformed the Atlantic Forests of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. In 1991, responding to the rapid loss of Atlantic Forest, the Government of Paraguay created the Mbaracayu Forest Natural Reserve (MFNR) and established the Cuenca watershed as a mixed-used protected area. Given the land use pressures facing the region, the future existence of healthy ecosystems within the Cuenca relies on balancing land use with conservation. The Mbaracayu program, run by the Fundacion Moises Bertoni (FMB), seeks to integrate a vision of sustainable and social development in harmony with the conservation of the MFNR. In response to the recognized need for a management plan, the FMB collaborated with the Alberta Research Council on the project "Capacity Enhancement for Community- and Ecologically-based Management in the Bosque Mbaracayu Biosphere Reserve, Paraguay". As part of the project, the land use simulation tool ALCES was applied to evaluate land use scenarios in the Cuenca. Applying ALCES contributed to the development of a management plan by informing the identification of sustainable land use options. The report is intended to communicate the ALCES tool and analysis, solicit feedback, and inform training of FMB staff to apply ALCES in the Cuenca.

Mbaracayu--Paraguay-ALCES-scenario-analysis-final-report.pdf
2009

Alberta Caribou Committee Recommendations to the Deputy Minister of Sustainable Resource Development for the Athabasca Caribou Landscape

Athabasca Landscape Team

Alberta Caribou Committee Recommendations to the Deputy Minister of Sustainable Resource Development for the Athabasca Caribou Landscape

ACCGB-Recommendations-to-ASRD-DM.pdf
2009

ALCES III Scenario Modeling Report - Athabasca Landscape Area, Appendix III

Terry Antoniuk, John Nishi, Karen Manuel, Mika Sutherland, Cornel Yarmoloy

ALCES III Scenario Modeling Report - Athabasca Landscape Area, Appendix III

Appendix-3---ALT-Modeling-Report-_-Final-June-09-.pdf
2004

A Strategic-Level Comparison of Urban Footprint Associated with Alternative Population Growth Strategies for the City of Edmonton (2001 - 2031)

Brad Stelfox, Richard Levy, and Heather Gariepy

The City of Edmonton has enjoyed impressive historical expansion in both population and area, growing from a small community of 2,626 people occupying 23 km2 at the turn of the century to a large city supporting approx. 716,515 people on approx. 363 km2 in 2004. Edmonton has maintained an average annual growth rate of 2.6% in population over the past 50 years, and 1.6% over the past 30 years. ALCES (A landscape simulation model) was used to explore the consequences of different potential growth rates and distributional patterns. The purpose of this project is to provide information to the City of Edmonton on the historical (past 100 years) and projected future growth (2001-2031) of the City of Edmonton. The two basic questions this report seeks to answer are: 1) How might the Edmonton Urban Footprint differ given four different (low, moderate, high, very high) population growth scenarios? And 2) How might the Edmonton Urban Footprint differ given three different distributional patterns (status quo, Downtown focus, Mature Neighborhood focus, Suburban Area focus) for a moderate population growth scenario?

2004_City_of_Edmonton_Growth_Analyses_using_ALCES.pdf
2011

Upper Bow River Basin Cumulative Effects Study - Modeling Report

Terry Antoniuk and Cornel Yarmoloy

The Upper Bow River Basin Cumulative Effects Study (UBBCES) was initiated by concerned citizens, groups, and organizations to investigate and better understand the potential cumulative effects that all land-uses could have on water availability, water quality, and other natural values in the Upper Bow River basin. The Steering Committee directing this study identified five primary concerns about social and environmental health and, in consultation with the authors, selected seven ecological and social indicators to represent these concerns: 1 - Will our children and grandchildren be able to rely on the Bow River and its tributaries for clean drinking water? 2 - Will there be enough water to meet the future needs of industry, acreages, Calgary residents, ranchers, farmers, and fish? 3 - Will there be undisturbed natural areas that supply clean water and provide places in which our children and grandchildren can visit, hike, bike, and watch wildlife? 4 - Will groundwater levels remain stable, decline, or increase? 5 - Will working farms and ranches remain? The ALCES landscape cumulative effects (A Landscape Cumulative Effects Simulator) dynamic landscape model was used for this study to forecast the response of the seven indicators to different development approaches. Work was conducted in two phases. In Phase 1, relevant information was collected and the ALCES model was used to forecast potential outcomes of a ‘business as usual’ scenario. For Phase 2, the model was used to evaluate the potential benefits of applying ‘best practices’ identified by the Calgary Metropolitan Plan and Southern Foothills Study.

UBBCES_Phase-1_2_Modeling_Report_Final_190511.pdf
2012

Cumulative Effects of Overlapping Land Uses of the Cold Lake First Nations

Dr. Brad Stelfox, Cornel Yarmoloy

The Cold Lake First Nations (CLFN) ALCES project described in this report was triggered by one of the most recent applications among a long series of past heavy oil and oilsand projects. The OSUM Taiga project is not necessarily unusual in technology, scale, or scope. It is but one example of many that have preceded it, and one of dozens to hundreds of projects that will emerge on the CLFN traditional lands in decades to come. What is unique about the OSUM project, however, is that it is directly adjacent to undeveloped reserve lands obtained as part of the CLAWR compensation settlement, to Cold Lake Provincial Park, and to Cold Lake itself. The proposed development footprint will degrade one of the last vestiges of relatively intact boreal landscape (described as “Awne” or “ąne”) easily accessible to CLFN which remains south of the CLAWR and north of the agricultural lands. Like many stories dealing with aboriginal culture and modern land-use, this one is neither simple nor linear. It involves a First Nations whose landscape has changed rapidly, who continue to aspire to maintain a culturally rich ability to participate in traditional activities (hunting, fishing, trapping, gathering), but also recognize the need to embrace components of Alberta’s contemporary economies and society. This community has growing anxiety about the integrity of their Traditional Territory. Ultimately, CLFN argue they deserve a meaningful conversation about their destiny based upon a scientifically credible and realistic examination of the existing state of cumulative impacts upon their Traditional Territory. CLFN is also mindful of the probability of significantly more encroachment in the future. With this in mind, the CLFN have commissioned the CLFN ALCES project to determine the ecological, economic, social and cultural impacts of current and future oil extraction. This report presents results of the CLFN ALCES® land-use scenario modelling for the Cold Lake First Nations Study Area (CLFN SA), which has been completed at the request of the Cold Lake First Nations (CLFN). It uses the ALCES® landscape cumulative effects simulation model (www.alces.ca) to examine and understand the collective impact of the region’s growing population, residential, agriculture, oil, military, park, and transportation sector footprints, and to account for the historic, current and future growth trends in population and industrial activities. By tracking the impact of plausible future growth scenarios (currently driven by the energy sector) on leading indicators such as water quality and demand, employment, air emissions, and wildlife habitat, the ALCES® model can determine the potential economic, social and ecological outcomes of each growth scenario. The model also investigates the relative influence of important natural processes, such as fire, on ecological indicators. The results of each landscape simulation are presented at multiple spatial scales, and include CLFN Traditional Territory, CLFN SA (Alberta side only; hereafter referred to as CLFN SA), specific sub regions (CLAWR, north of CLAWR, agricultural white area, region south of CLAWR and north of White Area, and AWNE (ąne)), and for quarter township (5 x 5 km) grid maps.

CLFN_and_Cumulative_Effects_of_Overlapping_Land_Uses.docx
2011

Phase 1. An Assessment of the Cumulative Effects of Land Uses within the Ghost River Watershed, Alberta - Report

Cornel Yarmoloy and Brad Stelfox

Society is increasingly aware of how our rivers, and the landscapes that support them, deliver not only water, but a suite of societal and ecosystem services which are needed to sustain our quality of life. Eastern Slope watersheds, such as the Ghost, supply diverse recreational needs, timber products, energy resources, support biological diversity and provide ecosystem services such as carbon storage, drinking water and flood control. Human land use development and recreational activities can potentially reduce the effectiveness of these valued services through incremental negative impacts on natural processes. Reductions in the ability of natural systems to provide clean water to downstream communities, such as Calgary, results in an increasing need for water treatment infrastructure and associated monies. Such costs are passed onto consumers through increasing taxes and metered water costs. As demonstrated in other geographies, the significant burden on downstream tax payers for potable drinking water can be reduced through the effective management of headwater areas rather than building and maintaining increasingly larger and more costly water treatment facilities. To support their vision of preserving and enhancing the integrity of the ecosystem functions in the Ghost watershed, the Ghost Watershed Alliance Society (GWAS; www.ghostwatershed.ca) sponsored a quantitative assessment of how past, current and future cumulative impacts of land use on multiple-use forest reserve and private lands within the Ghost-Waiparous watershed could potentially affect sustainability of forests, water, wildlife and recreational resources (Phase 1). The GWAS engaged ALCES Landscape and Land-use Ltd. (ALCES� Group; www.alces.ca) to conduct this initial assessment.

Ghost_River-_Alberta-_Cumulative_Effects_Study-_9_August_2011.pdf
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