ALCES Based Project Reports

Year Title (Author, Description) File Download

Quantifying land use of oil sands production: a life cycle perspective

Sarah M Jordaan, David W Keith, and Brad Stelfox

Methods for the inclusion of land use in life cycle assessment are not well established. Here, we describe an approach that compares land disturbance between spatially compact and diffuse activities that contribute to the life cycle of a single product, in this case synthetic crude from Alberta’s oil sands. We compare production using surface mining and in situ extraction technologies. In situ technologies disturb less land per unit of production than surface mining, but the spatial footprint of in situ production is more dispersed—increasing landscape fragmentation—and in situ production requires more natural gas which increases land use due to gas production. We examine both direct and peripheral land use of oil sands development by quantifying land disturbance using a parameterized measure of fragmentation that relies on ‘edge effects’ with an adjustable buffer zone. Using a life cycle perspective, we show that the land area influenced by in situ technology is comparable to land disturbed by surface mining when fragmentation and upstream natural gas production are considered. The results suggest that land disturbance due to natural gas production can be relatively large per unit energy. This method could be applied to other energy developments, for example, a comparison between coal mining and natural gas production when both fuels are used to generate electricity.

Contact ALCES for Sarah M Jordaan, David W Keith, and Brad Stelfox, 2009

Determining Appropriate Nutrient and Sediment Loading Coefficients for Modeling Effects of Changes in Landuse and Landcover in Alberta Watersheds

Dr. Bill Donahue

Alberta is engaged in creating watershed management plans throughout the province, that can be relied upon to provide direction for management of future development and landuse change, while attempting to protect the health of Alberta’s rivers and lakes. Because of widespread and growing nutrient enrichment problems and their effect on ecosystem health, and increased downstream water treatment costs, the reduction or avoidance of excess loading of organic matter and nutrients into rivers is a common goal of water resource managers in Alberta and elsewhere. Sources of these deleterious substances include easily identified sources, such as a wastewater treatment plant (point sources), and diffuse non-point sources associated with human landuse and changes in landuse.1-4 Informed landuse and watershed management that does not harm water quality and freshwater ecosystem health demands an understanding of the effects of landuse change on aquatic systems. Models that link landscape change and changes to water quality or aquatic ecosystem health are therefore relied upon to inform decision-makers, rather than simply tracking changes in water quality, which provides no insight into the sources of various chemicals. Most commonly, catchment export coefficients and loading rates are modeled to estimate the effects of landuse change on pollutant delivery and water quality, because it is input loads tied to particular sources or landuse change that permit either the avoidance of effects or remediative action to mitigate them. These are generally derived from small-scale field studies, and can range from simple regression models5 to more complex mechanistic models.4, 6-12 However, loading rates or export coefficients derived from small-scale catchments are often of limited use in estimating the effects of large-scale land use changes on water quality, or when applied to other locations. Similarly, modeling of export coefficients and pollutant transport based on detailed, site-specific hydrogeological, climatic, and landcover information acquired from field studies is generally not possible because of the exceptional expense and time needed to acquire such data.13, 14 Because the utility of coefficients determined somewhere else is uncertain, it is recommended that regional or local pollutant export coefficients be developed for estimation of pollutant loading in water bodies if sufficient landuse, water chemistry, and flow data are available.11 Unfortunately, in most regions, including Alberta, there has been insufficient environmental monitoring or effort to quantify effects of landuse change on nutrient and sediment export and water quality, in ways that enable land and water managers to make informed decisions to reduce the negative impacts of broad and large- scale landuse change or planning on water quality. Consequently, watershed managers must model estimates of risks of landuse change to aquatic ecosystems from commonly available information, and incorporate the use of loading coefficients developed elsewhere.3 In the absence of site- or region-specific studies and export coefficients, modelers and managers must rely on literature-derived export coefficients to assess the costs and benefits of past, current, and future landuse decisions, in terms of the potential for reducing water quality. However, notwithstanding that this necessity is driven by insufficient monitoring and environmental assessment, there often remains resistance to the conclusions of negative impacts of human landuse from the modeling of effects of landuse change on water quality that has been based on export coefficients developed elsewhere. Many studies elsewhere have provided export coefficients for nutrients and organic matter for forested, agricultural, and urban landscapes.4, 13, 15-17 The goal of this review is to assess the suitability of literature-based nutrient and sediment loading coefficients for modeling the potential for landuse 1 change to affect water quality in Alberta streams and rivers. In assessing the effects of landuse - or landuse change - on chemical loading in freshwaters, it is important to keep in mind two important caveats that were highlighted by Beaulac and Reckhow (1982)13: • As watersheds shift from natural, undisturbed conditions to increasing levels of human disturbance, the ecological mechanisms controlling nutrient flux become more complex and less understood. Therefore, the ability to accurately quantify or predict interactions between land use and aquatic conditions or responses becomes less precise and more uncertain. • For management of water resources, the use of nutrient loading coefficients for predicting changes in water quality conditions that follow changing land use is highly subjective. To reduce uncertainty in this use, the user of these coefficients must be familiar with the biogeochemical processes that influence nutrient fluxes. This is especially the case when there are insufficient local landuse and water quality data to determine loading coefficients. However, because of the breadth of scientific literature on the topic, the absence of local data should not be considered an absolute barrier to estimation of impacts of landuse change on water quality, for the purposes of landuse or watershed planning. This becomes more clear when considering the fact that landuse decisions will proceed whether or not local data are available to inform them definitively about non-point source pollution dynamics. It is arguable that the goal of any environmental modeling exercise is to quantify the nature, scale, and probability of risk, and provide the foundation for reducing environmental risks associated with particular management decisions. Therefore, modeling of non-point source pollution dynamics associated with landuse is a valid and valuable exercise, even in the absence of local data. With that in mind, the approaches and loading coefficients presented here are intended to aid landscape modelers, by providing a starting point for assessing environmental risk and the potential mitigations strategies that may be pursued to reduce them.

Contact ALCES for Dr. Bill Donahue, 2013

ALCES-based Habitat Simulation Modeling for Greater Sage-Grouse in Southeastern Alberta

Chernoff, Greg; Stelfox, Brad; Greenaway, Guy

In support of the Sage Grouse Recovery Action Group’s efforts to identify and quantify the potentially adverse effects of anthropogenic land use on sage grouse habitat, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (Fish and Wildlife) retained the Miistakis Institute at the University of Calgary and Brad Stelfox of Forem Technologies Ltd. to develop, populate, and parameterize a cumulative effects simulation model for a 7X7 township region in southeastern Alberta. This model was subsequently used to conduct landscape-scale simulation modeling over a 50-year time period. The goal of the modeling is to generate plausible future scenarios based on current knowledge of landscape, ecology, and human use which explore potential trajectories for sage grouse viability, and to identify the drivers of change in a virtual environment. The modeling presented in this report is based upon the ALCES® software (Forem Technologies Ltd.). ALCES® is a landscape simulator that enables resource managers, society, and the scientific community to explore and quantify dynamic landscapes subjected to single or multiple human land use practices and various natural disturbance regimes. The model was identified in the Alberta Greater Sage-grouse Recovery Plan (2005) as a decision support tool allowing the Recovery Action Group to determine priority areas for focusing recovery efforts. Land use information (inputs) for the model were derived from existing data collected for the Southern Alberta Landscapes (SAL - formerly Southern Alberta Sustainability Strategy (SASS)) Project’s ALCES®-based cumulative effects modeling, and modified into a format appropriate for sage grouse modeling. ASRD Fish and Wildlife convened a workshop to collect the data required for the wildlife module of the model (i.e., sage grouse data). The Alberta Conservation Association (ACA)-supported workshop brought together sage grouse experts from Canada and the United States. Currently there is no comprehensive model to support decisions with respect to land use in the sage- grouse range of the province. Creation of such a model will greatly assist with integrating decisions for activities such as oil and gas development with sage-grouse conservation activities. This modeling approach may represent a prototypical method for recovery planning. By incorporating wildlife data, land use parameters, and management goals into a participatory process, alternate land use and management scenarios can be explicitly compared with reference to their impact on a target species. Along with the generation of a realistic base-case scenario for current landscape composition and future planned land use, this research has examined the impacts of changing future land use trajectories related to the energy sector as an example of the type of sensitivity analysis that is possible in the ALCES® modeling environment, and of the capacity of this type of analysis to provide valuable information about the impact of different types of land use on sage grouse breeding occurrence and success.

Contact ALCES for Chernoff, Greg; Stelfox, Brad; Greenaway, Guy, 2008

Be Ready, or Be Left Behind. Report of the Advisory Panel on Metro Edmonton’s Future


To inform recommendations to Edmonton region mayors on how to make the region globally competitive, ALCES Online was applies to explore the long-term (50 year) consequences of alternative urban development strategies to landscape composition and greenfield development. The scenario analysis, presented as an appendix to the report, identified significant environmental and fiscal benefits from pursuing urban densification in the Edmonton region. Executive Summary The Metro Mayors Alliance asked our Panel to consider whether a globally competitive Edmonton region is achievable and, if so, to provide advice about how to make it happen. Over the course of several months we talked to experts, reviewed literature and listened to those with experience in municipal governance. We spoke with a wide crosssection of people in the private, public and non-profit sectors of our Metro Region communities. All of their views informed our analysis. Our advice to the Mayors is this: a globally competitive Edmonton Metro Region is achievable, but it will require municipalities planning, delivering and acting as one Metro Region in certain key areas. Our emphasis on those words is deliberate. Municipalities have become skilled at discussing issues and undertaking planning as a region. These have been the productive fruits of their participation in the Capital Region Board (CRB). But it has been challenging to translate those discussions and plans into collaborative actions with on-the-ground results. Despite years of interaction around the CRB table, municipalities still deliver services and infrastructure individually and compete with each other for land, resources and investment. When making choices, the costs and benefits to their individual municipality take precedence over the benefits to the overall region. Provincial policies and legislation have played a significant role in cultivating current practices. Municipalities are playing within the confines of a system that has evolved over decades – a system that drives competition among municipalities and doesn’t provide adequate mechanisms for their collaboration. This is understandable, but it’s not sustainable. Modelling commissioned by our Panel indicates that if municipalities continue to develop the Metro Region under a “business as usual” approach our region won’t just fail to be globally competitive, it will fall backwards, with serious implications for taxpayers and for the quality of life we all take for granted.1 If municipalities don’t change their current trajectory, the model shows as much as 87,700 additional hectares of agricultural land and 50,200 hectares of natural areas could be lost to uncoordinated development over the next 50 years. What’s more, the settlement footprint across the region could double in size from 135,900 hectares to as much as 273,900 hectares. Taxpayers could be on the hook for an additional $8.2 billion to service that larger footprint with roads and other public infrastructure. The good news is that there is a far better way forward – without amalgamation or the creation of a new layer of government. The modelling commissioned by our Panel indicates that if municipalities plan, decide and act as one Metro Region through an integrated approach, the expansion of the overall settlement footprint could be cut by approximately half. This would save precious agricultural land and natural areas. Municipal servicing costs would be cut in half, reducing upward pressure on municipal tax rates and saving money for taxpayers. All of this would help make the Metro Region globally competitive and improve its quality of life. So how should things change? From a functional standpoint, there are many options for municipal collaboration. One of the most promising ways is for municipalities to take a regional systems approach. A regional systems approach doesn’t mean delivering all aspects of a municipal service through a regional body. It means strategically bringing together elements of services that are regionally significant to create highly functioning systems across the region. Any aspect of a service that isn’t regionally significant would continue to be locally planned and locally delivered by each municipality. What are those regionally significant services that are important to our competitiveness? Our Panel identified many recognized drivers of competitiveness in city-regions, but three stood out as “cornerstones” for the Edmonton Metro Region: 1. Economic development 2. Public transit 3. Land use and infrastructure development. These three cornerstones are the primary factors considered by investors when deciding where to locate new industries and major facilities. Therefore, they are the areas of highest priority and greatest risk for the Metro Region. As inter-related areas, they should “snap together” to build a strong backbone that will enable the Metro Region to achieve its social, economic and environmental goals. And all three are areas where action is achievable, essential and urgent.

Contact ALCES for Multiple, 2016

Watershed Simulation Tool – Methods and Outcomes for the Bow River Basin

Carlson, M., R.J. MacDonald, and M. Chernos

Carlson, M., R.J. MacDonald, and M. Chernos. 2018. Watershed Simulation Tool – Methods and Outcomes for the Bow River Basin. Submitted to the Bow River Basin Council. Established in the wake of devastating floods in southern Alberta in 2013, the WRRP applies an integrated watershed approach to improve natural watershed function with the goal of building greater long-term resiliency. To inform this decision-making process in the Bow River Basin, the ALCES Online land use simulation model was applied to assess current and future risks to watershed function and the mitigation potential of conservation and restoration options. The scenarios incorporated the major land uses in the basin —- forestry, oil and gas extraction, agriculture, aggregate extraction, and urban and rural residential development — as well as forest fire. During the 50-year land use simulation, the expansion of land use was associated with elevated risk to watershed function, particularly in the central portion of the basin. The assessment of relative effectiveness of conservation and restoration strategies identified the strategies with the greatest potential benefit, and where to apply them for maximum effect. The hierarchical assessment of trade-offs among mitigation options is delivered to managers and stakeholders through a set of web-based dashboards, composed of dynamic maps and figures that convey future risks to watershed integrity and the effectiveness of mitigation options.

Contact ALCES for Carlson, M., R.J. MacDonald, and M. Chernos, 2018

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

Modelling Ecosystem Carbon Dynamics in Alberta: An Integrative Approach

Rider, N., M. Carlson, and B. Stelfox

Rider, N., M. Carlson, and B. Stelfox. 2016. Modelling Ecosystem Carbon Dynamics in Alberta: An Integrative Approach. ALCES Group Report. The report describes the application the ALCES Online landscape simulator to examine the effect of past, present, and potential future land use and natural disturbance on ecosystem carbon storage in Alberta, Canada. Introduction Fluxes of carbon (and other greenhouse gases) between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere are important drivers and mitigators of global warming (Heimann & Reichstein, 2008). Consequently, understanding ecosystem carbon dynamics and how land use and land use change affect them is becoming considered increasingly important. Since 2003, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has accepted greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory reports from many major nations (IPCC, 2015). Internationally binding agreements including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change ensure that countries monitor their greenhouse gas emissions. Land use and land use change (LULUC) are increasingly recognized as integral to global carbon budgets (Guo & Gifford, 2002; Kaplan, Krumhardt, & Zimmermann, 2012; Macedo & Davidson, 2014). Every year, Canada submits a National Inventory Report documenting emissions from land use and land use change as well as from commercial and industrial activities to the IPCC (Environment Canada, 2015b). Each National Inventory Report includes emission trends from the energy sector, industries and product use, agriculture, waste, and LULUC. Since the IPCC is primarily interested in emissions and emissions factors, the report does not specifically document existing carbon stocks in biomass or other pools. The current report expands research on carbon emissions by providing information on existing biomass and organic carbon stocks in Alberta. Additionally, it provides forecasts and backcasts for biomass and organic carbon based on a landuse dataset which documents historical LULUC as well as future LULUC. ALBERTA The province of Alberta is located in Western Canada. In 2014, the population of Alberta totalled 4.1 million (Alberta Finance, 2015). This number is expected to increase by around 50 % by 2041. This increase will create substantial demand for goods, services, and infrastructure which will undoubtedly lead to changes in land use and alter emissions patterns. Alberta is also home to a large energy sector which has nearly half a million kilometres of pipelines and nine oil sands developments (Alberta Energy Regulator, 2015). It is important for the Alberta Government to have decision-making tools which can inform land use decisions while taking into account multiple factors. The Alberta Government is currently developing regional plans to help manage multiple uses on the landscape (Alberta Environment and Parks, 2015). Information about how LULUC and ecosystem carbon storage are related should be considered by governments during local, regional, and national planning. GENERAL APPROACH The current project integrates existing ALCES data (which was originally obtained from a variety of sources), values from the primary literature, and other available information to determine best estimates of ecosystem carbon stocks. In general, with the exception of forests, peatlands, and wetlands, carbon stocks were divided into three categories - aboveground biomass, belowground biomass, and soil organic carbon (SOC). All carbon stocks were dependent on land uses and land use changes. For Alberta’s forest area, dead wood and litter biomass were also considered to be important stock categories. For peatlands and wetlands, it is difficult to distinguish between belowground biomass and soil organic carbon, so these were lumped together into a single category, belowground carbon. The approach used differed slightly depending on specific cover types. An online tool, ALCES Online, was used to present the data and generate all maps in this report. ALCES Online uses a raster data format with a resolution of 2.5 km. Existing biomass values for natural areas were determined either from relationships to other variables from the primary literature, measured values summarized in primary literature, measured values provided by government agencies, or values predicted by a model. To determine biomass and carbon stocks for anthropogenic features, the general approach was to determine a base carbon density in a given cell based on the carbon in natural features, croplands, and pastures (Equation 1). This base carbon value included area-weighted carbon values for all natural features, croplands, and pastures. To determine what the carbon value of an anthropogenic feature in a cell was, the base carbon value was divided by the area which it represented (the total natural, crop, and pasture area), and then multiplied by a loss coefficient associated with the anthropogenic feature in question, followed by the area of the anthropogenic feature (Equation 2; α = coefficient). The sum of base carbon of a given type and all carbon associated with anthropogenic features of a given type yielded the total carbon of a given type in a given cell (Equation 3). The sum of all types of carbon in a cell yields a total ecosystem carbon value for that cell (Equation 4). As was previously mentioned, litter and deadwood carbon values only existed for forest. Since croplands and pastures are more similar to natural features in terms of how anthropogenic features impact their carbon storage, croplands and pastures were included in the base carbon stocks in the aforementioned approach. The next section (Approach by Footprint) documents how values were determined for existing biomass or soil organic carbon and how the different anthropogenic feature carbon was accounted for. The approach described above was the most common one; however, in a few specific cases, as described in the following sections, the coefficient approach was not used to determine the carbon associated with an anthropogenic feature. Integral to the approach used was the Unity Dataset, which exists in ALCES Online (see The Unity Dataset).

Contact ALCES for Rider, N., M. Carlson, and B. Stelfox, 2016

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

The Future of Wildlife Conservation and Resource Development in the Western Boreal Forest

Carlson, M., and D. Browne

Carlson, M., and D. Browne. 2015. The Future of Wildlife Conservation and Resource Development in the Western Boreal Forest. Canadian Wildlife Federation, Kanata, ON. Canada’s western boreal forest is a region of national and international interest due to its immense economic and ecological values. The region’s hydrocarbons, timber, arable land, and minerals are a source of great economic potential, but also carry risks to wildlife and their habitat due to the cumulative effects of dispersed and often overlapping impacts of resource development. The aim of the project was to start a national dialogue about options for wildlife conservation in this rapidly developing region, with the ultimate goal of creating a comprehensive land-use plan for wildlife conservation and resource extraction in the western boreal forest. The analysis of the potential cumulative effects of the next 50 years of development in the region is a first step in this process.

Contact ALCES for Carlson, M., and D. Browne, 2015

Alces Online Hawaii Workshop, April 2016

Stelfox, J.B.

Contact ALCES for Stelfox, J.B., 2016

Knowledge Integration and Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) Modelling

Fabio Boschetti, Hector Lozano-Montes, Brad Stelfox, Catherine Bulman, Joanna Strzelecki, Michael Hu

Knowledge Integration and Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) Modelling report. Prepared for the WAMSI Kimberley Marine Research Program Final Report. The Kimberley Marine Research Program (KMRP) Project 2.2.8 represents the first attempt to integrate a large amount of data, knowledge and state-of-the-art understanding of the bio-physical, ecological and social processes affecting the Kimberley marine environment drawing in new information generated by several of the KMRP projects within the Western Australian Marine Science Institution (WAMSI) program. This information was used to parameterise two computer models (ALCES and Ecopath with Ecosim [EwE]) to simulate land, coastal and marine processes. A careful examination of a large volume of publications from the academic, private and public sectors allowed a number of climate and social economic development scenarios that the Kimberley region may experience in the decades to come to be developed. Computer simulations were used to test the Kimberley system’s responses to these alternative scenarios under a number of management strategies including current and proposed marine parks under different options of zoning and multiple uses. Both the scenarios and management strategies were selected and agreed upon in consultation with a number of stakeholder groups, including the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (formerly Department of Parks and Wildlife), The Kimberley Development Commission, WA Department of State Development, Department of Primary Industries and Resources (formerly Department of Fisheries), Department of Mine, Industry Regulation and Safety (formerly WA Department of Mines and Petroleum), among others. The analysis of the impacts of these scenarios and management strategies sheds light on a range of future states the Kimberley marine environment may experience during the 2015 to 2050 period. Before the core results are summarised, it is important to remind the reader that a model simulation is not an absolute prediction (a ‘prophecy’) of how the Kimberley region will look in 2050. Rather, it is an attempt to say something of decision-making significance about how the system may respond to the specific conditions summarised in the scenarios and management strategies, which is consistent with our current scientific knowledge and our current understanding of how the Kimberley system functions. It follows that while insight on system behaviour gained from consideration of these scenarios can provide guidance on potential patterns of responses, care must be taken when considering circumstances outside the specifics of the scenarios and management strategies modelled and particular account must be made of the uncertainty in our current knowledge. The outcome of this project is a very large set of simulation outputs representing the dynamical evolution of the land, coastal and marine environments over 35 years. This includes hundreds of regional maps and thousands of time series of environmental, social and economic indicators. All these results are now publically available and can be viewed at

Contact ALCES for Fabio Boschetti, Hector Lozano-Montes, Brad Stelfox, Catherine Bulman, Joanna Strzelecki, Michael Hu, 2017

A Biophysical and Land Use Atlas for Maui, Hawaii

Stelfox, J.B.

A biophysical atlas of physical features (soils, climate, topography), plant communities and land use sectors (croplands, residential, transportation, mining, industrial and tourism) was assembled in Alces Online and then used to prepare an online Atlas. This atlas is now available for the educational sector (primary, secondary, post-secondary) for the State of Hawaii. These materials were presented to local governments, land trusts, and the University of Hawaii.

Contact ALCES for Stelfox, J.B., 2016

A Fork in the Road: Future Development in Ontario’s Far North

Carlson, M., and C. Chetkiewicz. 2013

Ontario's Far North contains some of the world's most intact subarctic terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. It is a stronghold for a number of fish and wildlife species such as woodland caribou, wolverine, and lake sturgeon. The region is also the homeland of Ojibwe, Oji-Cree and Cree First Nations who have established longstanding traditional cultural values and a unique relationship with this land that they have used and occupied for thousands of years. The environment in the Far North provides important "services" to people such as climate regulation, food, cultural values, and clean and abundant water supplies. The Far North also includes a wealth of natural resources such as minerals, hydropower development potential, timber resources, and other resource development opportunities. In 2010, the Government of Ontario committed to working with First Nation communities to develop land-use plans that support conservation and development of the Far North. An important step in the planning process is assessing whether the cumulative effects of the full suite of potential future developments are compatible with the aspirations of First Nations and Ontario. To support decision-making in this unique region, we applied a simulation model (ALCES®) to explore changes in the composition of regional landscapes associated with potential future mining, hydroelectric development, and forestry activity as well as forest fires, and the implications for woodland caribou, wolverine, moose, and the intactness of watersheds. Our study focused on the James Bay Lowlands, which includes the large mineral reserves in the Ring of Fire, numerous kimberlite deposits, including the Victor Diamond mine, and major rivers with hydropower potential such as the Attawapiskat, Moose, and Albany. To encompass the full extent of the Pagwachuan Caribou Range, the study area extended south of the James Bay Lowland thereby also incorporating portions of five Sustainable Forest Licenses that are managed primarily for timber production. The simulated development scenario resulted in a three-fold increase in anthropogenic footprint over 50 years, primarily due to road and transmission corridor expansion to support industrial developments. The spatial pattern of the simulated footprint differentiated between the dispersed road network associated with forestry in the south and the more isolated, but intensive, mining and hydroelectric Executive Summary To support decisionmaking in this unique region, we applied a simulation model (ALCES) to explore changes in the composition of regional landscapes associated with potential future mining, hydroelectric development, and forestry activity as well as forest fires, and the implications for woodland caribou, wolverine, moose, and the intactness of watersheds. vi Canadian Boreal Initiative | Wildlife Conservation Society Canada developments in the north. The simulated forestry activity in the south had consequences for the Pagwachuan Caribou Range where the risk to herd survival approached the high category and range disturbance exceeded a threshold of 35% – a guideline in the national caribou recovery strategy. Simulated impacts to wolverine were also greatest in the south, where expansion of the road network caused habitat suitability to decline. Land use impacts to wildlife such as caribou and wolverine may be exacerbated by climate change. As an example, the moose population was simulated to increase twofold when climate change was incorporated, which would likely cause the region’s wolf population to grow with negative implications for caribou herd viability. Simulated mining and hydroelectric developments were sufficiently isolated at a regional scale to avoid large impacts to caribou and wolverine. A greater concern, however, may be the consequences of these developments to the integrity of aquatic ecosystems. The watershed impact score increased for a number of northern watersheds, demonstrating that risk to aquatic ecosystems is likely to increase in watersheds that contain important natural resource regions such as the Ring of Fire due to the presence of multiple mining and hydroelectric developments. The outcomes of this pilot project offers important considerations when addressing cumulative effects in northern Ontario, including: the benefit to wildlife of limiting land use to isolated regions within an otherwise intact landscape; the need to improve understanding of the cumulative effects to aquatic ecosystems of multiple large-scale developments (e.g., mines, dams) within northern watersheds; and the potential for climate change to increase the sensitivity of wildlife to industrial land use. We hope these findings will inform land-use planning at both the community and regional scale and motivate additional analyses that are needed to comprehensively assess cumulative effects in Ontario’s Far North.

Contact ALCES for Carlson, M., and C. Chetkiewicz. 2013, 2013

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

Valuaton of Recreation Attributes

Jonathan Holmes

This report by Jonathan Holmes lays out an approach for computing recreational value of landscapes Summary. Two concrete methods for calculating the non-market recreational value of a land base are presented: One based of landscape types, and the other on the mix of recreational activities used in the landscape. Both provide relatively easy and effective ways of quantifying the value of recreation in a given area over and above the total costs that recreational users had to pay, but I recommend the second method where possible because it is more precise and benefits from better regional estimates. In addition, I have included a discussion about how these estimates could be projected into the future using estimates derived from the ALCES model. The easiest way to do this is to assume that per hectare landscape values will remain constant over time for different landscape types, and to adjust the non-market value estimate based on landscape change. However, this assumes that other factors such as road penetration or the quantity of big game (in the case of hunters) have a small or negligible effect on the value of a landscape. While it would take more work, I believe that a more detailed projection of value (and therefore a better idea of what tradeoffs are in play) is possible in the case of hunting, and I discuss a few ways of doing this in a separate section. Unfortunately, projection of value for other types of recreation is difficult, because the relationship between landuse change and the recreational value of a landscape has been subject to few studies and reports to my knowledge.

Contact ALCES for Jonathan Holmes, 2009

In Situ Oil Sands Footprint Monitoring Project

Antoniuk, T., Manuel,, M., Sutherland, M., and Bowen, J.

Prepared for Alberta Environment Land Monitoring Team Stakeholders and regulators have become increasingly concerned about the cumulative impact of existing and future in situ oil sands operations on ecosystem health and reclamation success in the Lakeland Industrial and Community Association (LICA) region. To respond to these concerns, Alberta Environment (AENV) commissioned a pilot project to develop a terrestrial footprint monitoring protocol for the LICA region. The In situ Footprint Monitoring Project (the In situ project) was completed by the ALCES Group in association with InfoJim Inc. The intent of the project was to establish a foundation for ongoing monitoring of the in situ development footprint that would ultimately assist stakeholders and regulators in responsible land management and sustainable development. Specific objectives defined by AENV were: 1. Develop an indicator-based approach and protocol to assess landscape features and evaluate land disturbances and reclamation progress over time, utilizing spatial information at an appropriate scale to enable comprehensive evaluation of cumulative land disturbances. 2. Using the developed protocol – identify, monitor, and map the cumulative land footprint associated with in situ activities for the selected area between 1980 and 2007, and to enable periodic updates after 2007.

Contact ALCES for Antoniuk, T., Manuel,, M., Sutherland, M., and Bowen, J., 2008

Athabasca Landscape Team Caribou Management Options

Terry Antoniuk, John Nishi

Athabasca Caribou Landscape Management Options Report Athabasca Landscape Team May 2009 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Woodland caribou are listed as "threatened" under both Alberta's Wildlife Act and the federal Species at Risk Act. The Athabasca Landscape Team (ALT) was established in June 2008 by the Alberta Caribou Committee Governance Board (ACCGB) and tasked with developing an Athabasca Caribou Landscape Management Options report for boreal caribou ranges in northeast Alberta (hereafter Athabasca Landscape area). The ALT was asked to develop management options to recover and sustain boreal caribou in all populations in the Athabasca Landscape area, consistent with the provincial woodland caribou Recovery Plan (2004/05 – 2013/14), but not to consider detailed technical, political or economic challenges. The ALT determined that there is insufficient functional habitat to maintain and increase current caribou distribution and population growth rates within the Athabasca Landscape area. Boreal caribou will not persist for more than two to four decades without immediate and aggressive management intervention. Tough choices need to be made between the management imperative to recover boreal caribou and plans for ongoing bitumen development and industrial land-use. The four Athabasca ranges — Richardson, West Side Athabasca River (WSAR), East Side Athabasca River (ESAR), and Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) — reflect known caribou locations and the presence of suitable peatland habitat. A 20 kilometre (km) buffer was added to these combined ranges to identify ‘planning areas’ that reflect the influence of adjacent habitats and populations of predators and other prey on caribou population dynamics. Available information suggests that there is limited movement between the four ranges or populations. Discrete caribou habitat areas are primarily found in large peatland complexes, but lichen-rich pine forests are also used. These peatlands occur within a matrix of upland mixedwood forest that is avoided by caribou, but provides habitat for other prey species (i.e., moose, white-tailed deer and beaver) that in turn support wolves, black bear, and other potential predators. The selection for peatlands appears to be a spatial separation strategy critical to the survival of boreal caribou. All monitored caribou populations in the Athabasca Landscape area are currently in decline, and recent trends and simulation modeling results indicate that there is a high risk that the populations will not persist for more than forty years. Current extrapolated caribou abundance in the landscape area (ca. 900 animals) is well below the number that would be expected in the absence of industrial land-use. Predation appears to be the immediate cause of recent declines, and available information indicates that this is directly or indirectly linked to land-use features, including roads, harvest blocks, leases, pipelines and power lines, seismic lines, and agricultural/residential clearings that have led to an increase in moose and deer populations within and around caribou ranges. The ALT undertook two analyses from which it developed the management options presented in this report. The first was a rating of the relative risk to caribou persistence within each planning area and range based on a series of eight risk criteria. These criteria Athabasca Landscape Team i Athabasca Caribou Management Options Report included both biological and land-use factors believed to influence short- or long-term persistence and habitat function. Table 2 in this report defines each criterion and summarizes how it was used, along with relevant assumptions and comments. The overall risk rating for each planning area is provided in the Table included at the end of this Executive Summary. The second analysis conducted for each planning area or range by the ALT involved simulation modeling using ALCES®. Modeling was conducted to forecast likely caribou populations and habitat conditions under three scenarios including Non-Industrial, Business as Usual, and Alternative Futures. Scenarios for Alternative Futures were designed so that multiple simulations would identify the management lever, or combination of levers, that could maintain or increase boreal caribou numbers over the next 50 years. Land-use footprint, associated with oil sands (bitumen) extraction and forest harvest, is likely to increase throughout the Athabasca Landscape area over the next 50+ years. The highest risk to caribou occurs in areas that are underlain with thick bitumen deposits (which includes portions of all planning areas). Small population size is also associated with higher risk, as in the Richardson and CLAWR areas where both potential and existing populations are considered to be less than 150 individuals. Risk for caribou persistence is lower (but still rated as medium) in the WSAR and the eastern portion of the ESAR planning areas. The ALT’s analyses show that the time for management action in the Athabasca Landscape area is now. Risk of extirpation increases yearly, and further delays in management action implementation will compound the current challenges. ALT analyses demonstrate that an aggressive suite of management options (likely totalling hundreds of millions of dollars) will need to simultaneously focus on reducing predation risk and restoring functional caribou habitat within each planning area. It is important to reiterate that evaluation of political and economic implications of management options was considered outside the scope of the ALT. Likewise, consultation and engagement of parties that would be affected by the recommended management options has not been completed. Nevertheless, the ALT concluded that a suite of management options would be needed to maintain and increase current caribou distribution and population growth rates. Landscape scale management will be required to successfully sustain caribou in the Athabasca Landscape area. The ALT proposes that this region be managed as two zones. In Zone 1 Areas, described in more detail below, caribou recovery would be the priority designated land use, and all management options identified below would be implemented. Elsewhere within planning areas (Zone 2), all management options excluding future footprint restrictions would be implemented. The exception is portions of the ESAR – Bitumen Fairway sub-planning area underlain by thick bitumen deposits where appropriate best practices would be implemented. The suite of management options identified by the ALT includes:
Athabasca Landscape Team ii Athabasca Caribou Management Options Report ¥ establish large (thousands of square kilometre) Zone 1 Areas in portions of each planning area where recovery of functional habitat (footprint is reduced well below today’s levels through aggressive and coordinated reclamation and future industrial footprint is restricted to levels below current conditions); and caribou mortality control (wolves and other prey are controlled for 50+ years) would be the designated and enforceable management priority; 
 ¥ elsewhere within caribou planning areas (Zone 2 Areas): control wolves and other prey for 100+ years; conduct coordinated reclamation; and implement enhanced best practices; and 
 ¥ as the viability of cow-calf penning or predator-prey exclosures is uncertain, the Richardson planning area is the most appropriate location to test this option. 
The table below provides a summary of the management options that would recover and sustain current caribou abundance and distribution in each Athabasca Landscape planning area. All identified options would need to be implemented as an integrated suite. Simulations showed that successful combinations of management levers were common to all planning areas, although the extent and duration of management actions differed slightly between areas. Simulations and risk ratings demonstrate that larger or more intact planning areas such as WSAR and Richardson have higher probability of success than do smaller, or less intact planning areas such as CLAWR and ESAR in the bitumen fairway. 
The ALT concluded that ‘Zone 1 Areas’ should be established to increase the probability of successfully recovering caribou in each planning area.
Although implementation will require further consultation with stakeholders and consideration of the current land-use policy and regulatory system in the province, the value of Zone 1 Areas is that they would apply a cumulative effects management approach where caribou recovery would be the designated and enforceable land-use priority. From an ecological perspective, Zone 1 Areas need to be of sufficient size (thousands of square kilometres) to recover and sustain an isolated caribou population. In these areas, combined footprint would be reclaimed and future footprint restricted to very low levels (below current conditions) concurrent with continuous predator control until functional habitat is restored. Six candidate areas have been identified in portions of the WSAR, Richardson, ESAR-W, ESAR-E, and CLAWR planning areas. To achieve provincial caribou recovery goals, the ALT boreal caribou management objective, and offset current declines of woodland caribou populations in the Athabasca Landscape area, all planning areas should receive protection through designation and implementation of Zone 1 Areas. Indeed for small planning areas with high relatively high industrial land used and anthropogenic footprint like the CLAWR area, all suitable range should be considered as a Zone 1 Area in order to ensure persistence of caribou. However, if political considerations preclude this approach, the ALT recommends that priority for establishing Zone 1 areas should be in planning areas with greater chance of success for population recovery (i.e., the order listed in the table below). Ultimately, population size and management effectiveness is related to the amount of functional or intact habitat. If two planning areas are similar in most respects, and choices have to be made between them, the ALT concluded that the area with larger, more continuous, or relatively intact habitat has a greater chance of success. 
 Athabasca Landscape Team iii Athabasca Caribou Management Options Report A more quantitative evaluation of candidate Zone 1 Areas based on the concepts of risk management and viable populations should be undertaken to understand the relationship between area and extirpation risk and to optimize the location and size of candidate areas. Mortality management and functional habitat restoration through coordinated reclamation and appropriate best practices are required management options in Zones 1 and 2 of each planning area. Habitat restoration on its own will not achieve success, because unmanaged predation by wolves will cause ongoing decline in caribou numbers in the near term (i.e., several decades minimum), despite restoration efforts. Similarly, mortality management aimed at increasing caribou survival will help caribou persist, but will have to be continued indefinitely if functional habitat is not restored. These two management strategies – restoration of functional habitat and mortality management – must be applied together. It is important to note that the benefits of habitat restoration will not be realized for decades because there is a 30-50 year lag time following reclamation before forest becomes old enough to be considered low quality for other prey, and suitably old to be used by caribou. At minimum, mortality management will need to be continued for this entire lag period. For this reason, long-term risk will be minimized if both habitat restoration and mortality management begin as soon as possible. The suite of successful management options evaluated by the ALT provides new landscape-scale strategies to sustain caribou, but there are also several key challenges: ¥ establishing legislated boundaries and management guidance for Zone 1 Areas; 
 ¥ conducting landscape-scale reclamation programs coordinated among multiple 
 ¥ aggregating decisions for landscape-scale caribou management that are made by 
individual government departments into a broader integrated cross-government 
 ¥ consultation and engagement of stakeholders who would be affected by the 
recommended management options contained in this report; and 
 ¥ building awareness of decision-makers, land users, and the general public to 
maintain social and financial support for required management actions, research, and monitoring over the long term. 
The ALT suggests that the current Lower Athabasca Regional Planning initiative under the Alberta Land-Use Framework is an appropriate forum to address these challenges for the Richardson, ESAR, and CLAWR planning areas. The management strategies identified by the ALT will require further leadership and work by the ACC Governance Board and collaboration with others to identify solutions to policy challenges and to develop clear implementation rules and processes that are consistent with existing and proposed legislation. 

Contact ALCES for Terry Antoniuk, John Nishi, 2009

An assessment of the cumulative effects of land use and management in SSN

B. Wilson, M. Carlson, M. Iverson, and J. Straker, S. Sharpe

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The St’kemlupsemc Te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) requested that ALCES Landscape and Land Use Ltd. (ALCES) conduct a cumulative-effects assessment for the SSN traditional territory, including any effects contributed by the proposed Ajax mining project. Simply put, cumulative effects are the changes caused by our actions today in combination with other past, and reasonably foreseeable human and natural disturbance. Critical components of this assessment include: • assessment over the entire SSN traditional territory, as well as the Ajax Regional Study Area (RSA) where appropriate; and • referencing current and forecast future conditions against ranges of natural variation approximating pre-contact conditions. This report provides a summary of the undertakings, findings and any recommendations emerging from this work for consideration by the SSN Review Panel in its deliberations regarding the proposed KGHM Ajax project within the SSN Traditional Territory. Simulation models are tools that provide insight into the potential outcomes of different land use management strategies. Models will not explicitly tell us what the “best” management objective or implementation approach is – this is the role of decision makers. ALCES is an acronym that stands for A Landscape Cumulative Effects Simulator. ALCES Online (AO) is a web-based GIS and landscape simulator for assessing the cumulative effects of multiple overlapping land uses and external stressors such as climate change. Indicators are measures of values of interest that help us understand the consequences of human land use and natural disturbance The ALCES simulation model was used to simulate ecosystems and forest fires during pre-contact conditions, and to additionally simulate the current and future effects of key human land uses, including mining (metal and aggregate), forest harvest, road construction, rural and urban residential growth, and recreation. These simulations were assessed for the cumulative effects on a range of land-use and ecosystem indicators, including five key indicators selected by SSN representatives: 1. land dispossession and tenure; 2. grasslands quantity and quality; 3. mule deer; 4. fish; and 5. an index of animal protein sources. Results of this work demonstrate substantial effects for all of these indicators from the precontact period to current conditions. All grassland and wildlife indicators show estimated declines within the SSN Traditional Territory ranging from 13% to 100%. In addition, development of the proposed Ajax mine project is shown to further contribute to decline in ALCES Landscape & Landuse Ltd. ii future indicator performance for the grasslands and protein indices. Performance for the key selected indicators is summarized below: • Land dispossession and tenure – roughly 316,000 ha, or 25%, of the SSN traditional territory has been dispossessed through granting/sale of private lands, designation of provincial parks or other protected areas, and through direct construction of human footprint. These dispossessed areas are generally concentrated around the city of Kamloops and the grasslands to the south, as well as along the Thompson River valleys. Addition of non-forestry tenure types (mineral leases, guide-outfitter areas, range tenures, and the Agricultural Land Reserve) brings the total dispossessed land to 110% of the traditional territory. This analysis demonstrates that even without inclusion of forestry tenures that have granted forest-harvest rights and the ability to impose associated land management activities on the landscape, almost the entirety of the SSN traditional territory is occupied by at least one tenure type that is restrictive of SSN use of this land base. • Grasslands quantity and quality – grasslands comprised approximately 15% of the SSN traditional territory in pre-contact times. An analysis of current conditions indicates the absolute loss due to human land uses of almost 26,000 ha within the traditional territory, or approximately 14% of the original grasslands. These metrics are further pronounced in an examination of the Ajax RSA. In pre-contact times there were approximately 63,000 ha of grasslands in the RSA, or about 1/3 of the grasslands in the SSN traditional territory. Roughly 8200 ha, or 13%, of these grasslands have been lost due to human development at present, and future development over the next 50 years is projected to remove another 3400 ha, or 6% of the remaining grasslands. One of the larger intact grasslands in the RSA is the 2200-ha area north of the proposed mine development, and south of the Aberdeen neighborhood in the city of Kamloops. Declines in grassland quality are also estimated to have occurred and to continue occurring, both at the scale of the SSN traditional territory and within the RSA for the proposed Ajax mine. These declines are due to the combined effects of fire suppression, cattle grazing, introduction of non-native and invasive species, and physical removal of grasslands due to construction of human footprints. Integration of quantity and quality as an aggregate metric suggests that there has been an approximate 67% decrease in the integrity of native grasslands in the SSN traditional territory from pre-contact times to the present, and a 72% decrease within the Ajax RSA. • Mule deer – the habitat-effectiveness index for mule deer is currently 21% below the estimated lowest pre-contact level. This index is predicted to recover over the 50-year forecast driven by changes in forest demographics, but will still remain well below the minimum pre-contact level for this species. Fish – fish habitat is estimated for species that occur within the mainstems of the Thompson Rivers, including interior Fraser coho, an at-risk population. Average fish habitat values across the study area have declined by 27.5% from reference values, but some areas are higher, with declines in excess of 50%. These estimates of decline are conservative, in that they are based solely on a narrow assessment of mainstem habitat values, and do not account for temperature and flow effects within the river, nor population effects due to other factors. In addition, due to its limitation to the mainstem Thompson rivers, our analysis was not able to assess effects on fish inhabiting the Pípsell (Jacko Lake) area and associated watercourses. • Index of animal protein sources - The index of primary pre-contact terrestrial animal protein sources has declined by approximately 49% in current conditions from the precontact period, due both to degradation of grouse and mule-deer habitat and due to extirpation of elk and caribou from the traditional territory. Combining the effects of habitat degradation, extirpation, and land dispossession indicates an even greater effect: a 62% decline in availability of these protein sources under current conditions in comparison to the pre-contact period, as the majority of the highest quality habitat for the traditional protein species is largely inaccessible due to the granting of private title and construction of human footprint. As with the grasslands analysis, these effects are further pronounced in the RSA for the proposed Ajax mine – in this area, the decline in accessible terrestrial animal protein sources is 74% in current conditions compared to the pre-contact period. Addition of the fish indicator to the terrestrial protein indicators shows a total precontact protein indicator decline of 36% from pre-contact to current conditions. When the effects of tenure and direct displacement are added, the estimated decline is 42%. These and supporting analyses conducted for this report show the already substantial cumulative effects of land-management decisions and use in the SSN traditional territory, with generally large changes estimated from the pre-contact period to the present. Although the proposed Ajax project is relatively small, it is an additional stressor on the territory’s ecosystems and the organisms that depend on them, and its development would cause further loss to key SSN indicators, particularly grasslands and related species.

Contact ALCES for B. Wilson, M. Carlson, M. Iverson, and J. Straker, S. Sharpe, 2016

Final UBBCES Natural Capital Report

Brad Stelfox, Matt Carlson, ALCES

Temporal and Spatial Changes in the Natural Capital of the Upper Bow River Basin, Alberta, Canada. This report summarizes key findings of the Upper Bow River Basin Natural Capital Study – a project tasked with quantifying the current condition, historical changes, and future projections in natural capital for the Upper Bow River Basin, Alberta. These findings are intended to inform and assist land use decisionemakers required to devise regional plans that consider natural capital tradeeoffs.

Contact ALCES for Brad Stelfox, Matt Carlson, ALCES, 2014

Modelling regional futures at decadal scale: application to the Kimberley region

Fabio Boschetti, Hector Lozano-Montes, J. Brad Stelfox

We address the question of how to provide meaningful scientific information to support environmental decision making at the regional scale and at the temporal scale of several decades. Our application is the management of a network of marine parks in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, where the key challenges to environmental sustainability are slow-dynamics climate change processes and one-off investments in large infrastructure, which can affect the future of a region for decades to come. In this situation, strategic, rather than reactive planning is necessary and thus standard adaptive management approaches may not be effective. Prediction becomes more urgent than adaptation, in terms of assessing the long term consequence of specific economic and conservation decisions. Working at the interface between future studies, socio-economic modelling and environmental modelling, we define 18 scenarios of economic development and climate change impacts and 5 management strategies aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the marine environment. We explore these potential future trajectories using coupled models of terrestrial land use and marine ecosystem dynamics. The Alces model simulates the dynamics of bio-physical and socio-economic processes on land and the pressures these impose on the coastal and marine environment. This forces an Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) model used to simulate marine processes, foodweb dynamics and human activities in the marine environment. We obtain a projection of the Kimberley marine system to the year 2050, conditional on the chosen scenarios and management strategies, which is compatible with the best available knowledge of the current system state (as codified in the models’ input) and system functioning (as represented in the models’ dynamics). Our results suggest that climate change, not economic development, is the largest factor affecting the future of marine ecosystems in the Kimberley region, with sedentary species such as reef fish at greatest risk. These same species also benefit most from more stringent management strategies, especially expansion of sanctuary zones and Marine Protected Areas.

Contact ALCES for Fabio Boschetti, Hector Lozano-Montes, J. Brad Stelfox, 2019
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