ALCES Based Project Reports

Year Title (Author, Description) File Download

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

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?

Contact ALCES for Brad Stelfox, Richard Levy, and Heather Gariepy, 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

Contact ALCES for Suren Kulshreshtha and Russell Consulting, 2004

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

Contact ALCES for Daniel Farr and Brad Stelfox, 2005

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.

Contact ALCES for Yetunde Jeje, 2006

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.

Contact ALCES for Matt Carlson, 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

Contact ALCES for Matt Carlson, Erin Bayne, Brad Stelfox; Canadian Boreal Initiative, 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

Contact ALCES for Southern Alberta Land Trust and Brad Stelfox, 2007

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.

Contact ALCES for Silvatech Consulting, 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
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