Ecological Connectivity – Modelling, Planning and Municipalities

 

Ecological Connectivity – Modelling, Planning and Municipalities

Three guides to help to clear some of the cloudiness around ecological connectivity and municipal planning

The Issue / Idea

Municipalities face challenges in finding practical guidance for integrating ecological connectivity into the structures and practical realities of municipal planning.

The Project

Every municipal planning department in the Calgary region has faced the challenge of addressing ecological connectivity.

It can start from a variety of directions – open house feedback, a councilor request, a regional planning requirement, etc. It can carry many labels: wildlife corridors, linkage zones, structural and functional connectivity. However, two things are common to all of these cases. First, it is always based on the notion that species need to move to stay healthy and viable. Second, what a municipal planner can or should do about this is not clear.

As part of the Calgary Regional Partnership’s Ecological Conservation and Protection Initiative, Miistakis created three guides to help to clear some of the cloudiness around ecological connectivity and municipal planning.

As well as supporting municipal planners, these guides are intended to help those working with planners or who are affected by municipal plans. Understanding the way ecological connectivity is viewed through the lens of municipal planning will help others (including municipal councilors, wildlife biologists, conservation groups, land developers and builders) better understand the decisions and options that emerge in the planning realm.

Planning to Connect: A guide to provide clarity on what ecological connectivity might mean for a municipality, which plans and policies to target, and how. It also includes a searchable catalogue of example clauses from other jurisdictions and a document library of sample plans, reports, strategies, and cases from which to learn

Pulling the Levers: A Guide to Modelling and Mapping Ecological Connectivity outlines how the science can be used to give municipalities map-based illustrations of ecological connectivity.

Connecting the Dots: A Guide to Using Ecological Connectivity Modeling in Municipal Planning outlines how planners can acquire and use that information to address planning questions, working in partnership with their GIS staff or consultants.


Planning to Connect: A Guide to Incorporating Ecological Connectivity into Municipal Planning

Policy Clause Catalogue

Pulling the Levers: A Guide to Modelling and Mapping Ecological Connectivity

Connecting the Dots: A Guide to Using Ecological Connectivity Modeling in Municipal Planning

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2019

Supporters

Woodcock Foundation

CRP Regional Ecoplan

 

CRP Regional Ecoplan

A project to outline how the region’s valued ecological features and functions could be maintained, and to do so by identifying measurable targets, describing specific actions that can be taken by the Calgary Regional Partnership and its members

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities maintain their valued ecological features and functions in the face of  population growth?

The Project

In 2014, Miistakis began working with the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) on an implementation plan for the Calgary Metropolitan Plan’s first principle: “Protecting the natural environment and watershed.”

In a region that is projected to receive another 1.6 million people over the next 60 years, it was recognized it would be a significant challenge to determine how to actually approach achieving this principle, as well as how to know if it has been accomplished.

The Ecological Conservation and Protection Plan (later renamed the CRP Regional EcoPlan) was created to outline how the region’s valued ecological features and functions could be maintained, and to do so by identifying measurable targets, describing specific actions that can be taken by the CRP and its members at both the regional and local level, and by integrating directly with the Calgary Metropolitan Plan.

The Ecological Conservation Themes – the backbone to the plan – were established and, as well as the plan framework, and the target-setting approach approved by the CRP Executive in September 2017.


CRP Regional EcoPlan: A Summary of the Ecological Conservation and Protection Plan

CRP Regional EcoPlan: Themes – Detailed

Measuring Up: A Preliminary Assessment of Potential CRP EcoPlan Sub-Theme Measures

CRP EcoPlan: Strategies Catalogue: Summary Description

Proposed Target-setting Process for the CRP Regional EcoPlan

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2017

Supporters

Calgary Regional Partnership

Municipal Conservation Easement Program

 

Municipal Conservation Easement Program

A Guide to help municipalities create a conservation easement program

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities help landowners conserve their land for the future by using a conservation easement?

The Project

Flagstaff County in east-central Alberta has been working towards better protecting the valuable landscapes within its communities. After being approached by a local landowner about granting a conservation easement to the County, Flagstaff approached Miistakis about helping them establish a Conservation Easement program (municipalities are ‘qualified organizations’ under the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, eligible to hold conservation easements).

Working with the County’s Agricultural Service Board, Miistakis helped them draft a conservation easement bylaw, and tailor the policy to their draft Municipal Development Plan.

Once the decision was made to go ahead with implementation, Miistakis worked with the County to identify the conservation goals, and specific administrative needs. Miistakis then developed several implementation resources including a program procedures manual, a conservation easement template, a Baseline Documentation Report manual and template, a monitoring template, and several other templates and resources.

Flagstaff County is now moving ahead to negotiate conservation easements with interested ratepayers in their community.


Flagstaff County Conservation Easement Program: Procedures Manual

Flagstaff County Conservation Easement Program: Conservation Easement Checklists

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2017

Supporters

Flagstaff County

Distributed GIS for Calgary Region Municipalities

 

Distributed GIS for Calgary Region Municipalities

Providing support for the Calgary Regional Partnerships’ Regional Metadata Guidelines

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities in the Calgary Region effectively share and use GIS data?

The Project

In 2009, the Miistakis Institute began supporting the Calgary Regional Partnerships’ development of Regional Metadata Guidelines for GIS data management (Regional GIS or RGIS) to support planning within the Calgary region. The project’s objectives were to:

    • Create mechanism for cataloguing, exchanging spatial data
    • Support and facilitate other CRP initiatives
    • Promote standards & best practices among CRP GIS Community

Throughout the project, Miistakis was involved in all technical meetings, developed a Metadata Best Practices Guide and developed a variety of other technical tools and templates that allow for data sharing between municipalities.


Metadata Best Practices Guide

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2011

Supporters

Calgary Regional Partnership

Transfer of Development Credits

 

Transfer of Development Credits

A tool to help communities deal with rapid conversion of their valued landscapes, while simultaneously promoting appropriate landscape development

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities deal with the rapid conversion of their valued landscapes, while simultaneously promoting appropriate landscape development?

The Project

The Transfer of Development Credits (TDC) tool is designed to help communities deal with the rapid conversion of their valued landscapes, while simultaneously promoting appropriate landscape development. The tool allows for the transfer of development potential from areas less suited to development (based on a community desire to see its character and function maintained), to areas more suited to increased development (based on their capacity to accept greater development activity).

The TDC website was developed as a resource for Alberta communities, to assist them in better understanding what a TDC program is, and how it can be used to conserve valued landscapes.


A Practical Guide to Transfer of Development Credits (TDCs) in Alberta

 

Organization

This project was undertaken by

Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2013

Supporters

Alberta Real Estate Foundation

Anonymous Donor

Good Riddance: Waste Management Law in Alberta

 

Good Riddance: Waste Management Law in Alberta

A primer on the waste management system in Alberta

The Issue / Idea

Waste management poses a challenge across jurisdictions. What is the regulatory framework around waste management in Alberta?

The Project

Garbage is often considered to be the stuff we no longer need or want. We put it out of sight. We bury it, we burn it, we dump it, we hide it. Garbage is a nuisance and a bother. Unfortunately, the truth is that garbage can be much worse than a nuisance. A general term for garbage, and the term that will be used throughout this report, is “waste”. Waste is defined by what we do with it and how we choose to handle it and the definition can be contentious – as you will read in a later section. If we have no use for certain materials other than to dispose of them, then these materials are often considered to be waste, with the rules for their safe disposal set out in our laws and regulations. Waste can also be defined by type, or where it comes from. For example, separate laws in Alberta deal with biomedical waste or agricultural waste. There is also a differentiation between waste and recycling. This report is designed to provide an overview of the law that applies to waste management in Alberta, including a summary of the governing statutes and regulations.

This report is a primer on the waste management system in Alberta and as such some areas are not dealt with in the repot including sewage treatment; air and water emissions; intensive livestock operations; contaminated sites; and specific municipal waste bylaws.


Good Riddance: Waste Management Law in Alberta, 3rd Edition

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Environmental Law Centre

Status

Completed in

2020

Supporters

Alberta Law Foundation

Call of the Wetland

 

Call of the Wetland

A citizen science amphibian monitoring project to understand the health of Calgary’s wetlands and to engage Calgarians in urban wildlife and wetland awareness

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities learn about their urban wetlands’ health while engaging residents in wetland awareness?

The Project

To better understand the health of Calgary’s wetlands, Miistakis Institute, Enbridge, Parks Foundation Calgary, Alberta Conservation Association and the Calgary Zoo developed “Call of the Wetland”, a citizen science program that enabled the public to monitor amphibians as an important indicator of wetland health. There were 6 amphibian species that have historically been found in Calgary, however, prior to Call of the Wetland, it was unknown which still persist in our urban environment.

Call of the Wetland engaged Calgarians in understanding the health of wetlands through monitoring of amphibians and enabling a connection to nature in the City. The long term outcome of Call of the Wetland is to build off of the knowledge gained on amphibian presence to understand the health of wetlands within the City of Calgary, as well as to continue to foster a community of knowledgeable citizens to champion wetland protection and restoration.


Call of the Wetland Story Map

Call of the Wetland Participant Update: Program Reporting

Call of the Wetland Website

Amphibians at Risk: An analysis of wetland habitat and corridors needed to secure amphibian populations in Calgary

Amphibians At Risk In Calgary: Infographic

Organization

This project was undertaken by

Miistakis Institute

City of Calgary

Calgary Zoo

Alberta Conservation Association

Status

Completed in

2020

Supporters

Enbridge

Parks Foundation Calgary

The Calgary Foundation

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

Alberta Innovates

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

Bow River Basin Council

Mount Royal University

Mount Royal University, Institute of Environmental Sustainability

STAR EcoWorks

World Wildlife Fund Canada

Urban Wildlife Monitoring

 

Urban Wildlife Monitoring

A citizen science monitoring project to understand how wildlife responds to the urban environment, and to engage Calgarians in urban wildlife awareness

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities learn about their urban wildlife populations while engaging residents in wildlife awareness?

The Project

Calgary Captured is a multi-year urban wildlife monitoring program that was launched in 2017 focused on medium to large mammals. Through citizen science, the program involved Calgarians in biodiversity monitoring through the classification of camera-trap images to species. The objectives of the program are to build a dataset of species presence in Calgary, engage Calgarians in urban wildlife awareness, and to improve our understanding of how wildlife responds to the urban environment.


Calgary Captured Year One Analysis: Technical Report

Calgary Captured Year Results

Calgary Captured Year One Results: Maps

I’m A Calgarian


(example of one of six wildlife awareness cards produced)

Calgary Captured Information Card


(example of one of five Calgary Captured awareness cards produced)

City of Calgary: Wildlife Camera Monitoring

 

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The City of Calgary

The Miistakis Institute

Alberta Environment and Parks

Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society

Weaselhead/Glenmore Park Preservation Society

Status

Began in 2017 and is

On-going

Supporters

The Calgary Foundation

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation

Working with Nature

 

Working with Nature

Harnessing the power of natural infrastructure to increase municipalities’ flood and drought resiliency

The Issue / Idea

Every municipality has “natural infrastructure,” but what is it, where is it, and how does it relate to flood and drought risk?

The Project

The Working With Nature toolkit was created to help municipalities catalogue their natural infrastructure, and then develop a prioritized plan for better using it to mitigate flood and drought risk. A Primer document was developed to provide a starting point for municipalities to understand the type of information, data, and programs available to inform and support flood and drought mitigation planning.

This free toolkit provides the materials and directions for a municipality to self-navigate through workshops, worksheets, and ultimately a living Workbook. In the process, a municipality will address Goals and Principles, Risks and Hazards, Natural Infrastructure, Actions, and Policy Development.


Working with Nature Toolkit Website

Working with Nature Webinar Slide Deck

Municipal Flood and Drought Action Planning Primer

Adapting to Flooding: An Adapt-action Summary Report

Adapting to Water Scarcity: An Adapt-action Summary Report

 

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Project was completed in

2019

Supporters

Government of Alberta’s Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program

Town of Cochrane

Urban Wetland Connectivity

 

Urban Wetland Connectivity

A project to help maintain amphibian diversity and increase amphibian abundance in the urban environment

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities support urban amphibian populations?

The Project

The goal of this project was to provide information to The City of Calgary to help maintain amphibian diversity and increase amphibian abundance in the urban environment. Three amphibian species, wood frog (Lithobates sylvaticus), boreal chorus frog (Pseudacris maculata) and tiger salamander (Ambystoma mavortium) currently make Calgary their home. Key concerns for amphibians in Calgary are the impacts of wetland loss, wetland degradation, and fragmentation of the wetland network. We sought to understand which wetlands support amphibians and where amphibians are moving between wetlands in Calgary.

The modelling products include habitat suitability indices, connectivity models, and centrality and barrier maps designed to inform planning, management and restoration of the wetland network to support amphibians in Calgary. For this project, natural wetlands, modified wetlands and stormwater ponds were all included in modelling and are referred to in this report generically as wetlands.


Amphibians at Risk: An analysis of wetland habitat and corridors needed to secure amphibian populations in Calgary

Amphibians At Risk In Calgary: Infographic

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

The City of Calgary

The Calgary Zoo

The University of Saskatchewan

Status

Completed in

July 2020

Supporters

Alberta Innovates