ALCES Based Project Reports
|Year||Title (Author, Description)||File Download|
Assessing the Potential Cumulative Impacts of Land Use and Climate Change on Freshwater Fish in Northern Ontario
Chetkiewicz, C-L B., M. Carlson, C.M. O’Connor, B. Edwards, F.M. Southee, and M. Sullivan
Chetkiewicz, C-L B., M. Carlson, C.M. O’Connor, B. Edwards, F.M. Southee, and M. Sullivan. 2017. Assessing the Potential Cumulative Impacts of Land Use and Climate Change on Freshwater Fish in Northern Ontario. Wildlife Conservation Society Canada Conservation Report No. 11. The study is the first to project the potential impacts of development on freshwater systems in a 440,000 km2 region of northern Ontario over the next 50 years. The study examined the impact of high- and low-growth development scenarios that incorporated forestry, mining, and hydroelectric development, as well as climate change and forest fire. The response of fish populations was assessed by applying expert-derived models that describe relationships between simulated stressors (e.g., roads, dams, forestry activities, temperature) and species-specific fish sustainability indices (FSI) for walleye, lake sturgeon, lake whitefish, and brook trout. All four species exhibited increased risk over the simulation period, although lake whitefish were more tolerant of simulated changes in land use and climate change. Overall, climate change was the most influential driver of risk to freshwater fish, followed by hydroelectric dams. Climate change consistently exacerbated the effects of land use and natural disturbance changes under both scenarios – FSI declined faster or further when land use was combined with climate change.
|Contact ALCES for Chetkiewicz, C-L B., M. Carlson, C.M. O’Connor, B. Edwards, F.M. Southee, and M. Sullivan, 2017|
Cost of Construction and Maintenance of Infrastructure relevant to the Upper Bow Basin
Mr. Jonathan Holmes
Contains metrics pertaining to cost of construction and maintenance of infrastructure. Summary. This analysis is a comparative study of three different documents (see below under “studies used”) to find the best available estimates of costs and revenues of new development from the perspective of municipalities. The above estimates are certainly not perfect, but hopefully detailed review of the assumptions underpinning these numbers will show that they are realistic for the Upper Bow Basin. These coefficients are meant to be used for both the BAU simulation as well as for best practices. In particular, they are sufficient to estimate the capital costs of denser or “clustered” development. From a municipality’s perspective, the key change from clustered development is a reduction in the costs of constructing roads and water pipelines to connect far-flung areas. Since water pipeline length is very closely related to urban roadway length, it is possible to estimate the cost-savings of urban development using the quantity of roadway required for these communities as the driver. Another way of showing the consequences of best practices is to measure the substitution of one landuse type for another. Because rural development has different rates of revenues and costs, an 3 of 15 increase in density of residential development would have consequences on a municipality’s financial position, and this can be captured using the information provided here. However, best practices which alter the costs impacts of a specific landuse without changing its landuse type are not analyzed in this report. For example, the additional costs of water conservation for a given piece of land are not quantified. If required, this can be done separately. (Note: For a discussion of a limited number of best practices, we recommend reading the CMHC report).
|Contact ALCES for Mr. Jonathan Holmes, 2010|
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 â€˜business as usualâ€™ scenario. For Phase 2, the model was used to evaluate the potential benefits of applying â€˜best practicesâ€™ identified by the Calgary Metropolitan Plan and Southern Foothills Study.
|Contact ALCES for Terry Antoniuk and Cornel Yarmoloy, 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).
|Contact ALCES for Terry Antoniuk and Cornel Yarmoloy, 2011|
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.
|Contact ALCES for Peggy Holroyd; Univ. of Calgary Dissertation, 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.
|Contact ALCES for Matt Carlson, ALCES Group - for the Baptiste Lake Watershed Stewardship Group, 2008|
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
|Contact ALCES for Southern Alberta Land Trust and Brad Stelfox, 2007|
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.
|Contact ALCES for Scott Nielsen and Mark Boyce, 2003|
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
|Contact ALCES for Matt Carlson, Erin Bayne, Brad Stelfox; Canadian Boreal Initiative, 2007|
Landscape Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing Development and Operations on Surface Water and Watersheds
Quinn, M.S., M.E. Tyler, E. Ajaero, J. Arvai, M. Carlson, I. Dunmade, S. Hill, J. McCallum, D. McMartin, D. Megson, G. O’Sullivan, R. Parks, D. Poulton, B. Stelfox, J. Stewart, C. Serralde Monreal, S. Tomblin, C. Van der Byl. 2015. Landscape Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing Development and Operations on Surface Water and Watersheds. Prepared for the Canadian Water Network. Institute for Environmental Sustainability, Mount Royal University, Calgary, AB. The study explores landscape and watershed impacts of hydraulic fracturing using a multi‐disciplinary social and natural science framework. The primary learning from our multidisciplinary approach is the need for greater institutional opportunities to integrate and coordinate a spectrum of approaches to address knowledge gaps in multiple system interactions across scales and involving system threshold effects that may be social in nature as well as biogeochemical. There is a lack of operational precedents in Canada for applying a cumulative effects approach to assessment of regional gas extraction from low permeability unconventional formations using horizontal wells with multistage hydraulic fracturing. A demonstration case study was developed for this report and fully presented in Appendix A. The purpose of the case study was to demonstrate how a simulation model (ALCES Online), in conjunction with an RSEA approach, could inform regional management of hydraulic fracturing by identifying risk and mitigation opportunities. The simulation outcomes were sensitive to uncertainties, emphasizing the importance of improved understanding of hydraulic fracturing’s impacts.
|Contact ALCES for Multiple, 2015|