Roadside Management for Pollinator Habitat in Alberta

 

Roadside Management for Pollinator Habitat in Alberta

A review of current research and management that promotes roadside pollinator habitat

The Issue / Idea

Managing and/or restoring roadsides for pollinator habitat.

The Project

Pollinators contribute to food security, biodiversity maintenance and ecosystem resiliency in addition to their social and cultural value. However, pollinators, particularly native populations, are declining around the world due to threats from habitat loss and land use practices. Roadsides, and other marginal lands, are not traditionally managed to support biodiversity or pollinators. However, these lands provide a unique conservation opportunity to continue serving their traditional purposes, while also supporting native pollinator populations.

Roadside restoration for pollinators was identified as a topic of interest to municipalities in Alberta through Community Conserve. We initiated a survey to determine what type of projects municipalities in Alberta are currently undertaking to support pollinator populations and conducted a literature review to summarize beneficial management practices in roadside maintenance and restoration for pollinator habitat. As well, relevant case studies and resources were gathered to guide municipalities interested in pursuing roadside pollinator projects.


Roadside Management for Pollinator Habitat in Alberta

 

Organization

This project was undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

May 2021

Supporters

Max Bell Foundation

Anonymous Foundation

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

Renewable Energy for Rural Municipalities

 

Renewable Energy for Rural Municipalities

A project to help municipalities municipalities understand their environmental, social, economic concerns and opportunities, and what support tools they may need to process applications for large scale (over 1MW) solar and wind development in their municipality

The Issue / Idea

What tools do municipalities need to balance development considerations with high value agricultural, ecological, and cultural lands?

The Project

“By 2030, renewable sources like wind and solar will account for up to 30 per cent of electricity generation,” says Alberta’s Climate Leadership Plan.

To achieve this goal, large scale wind and solar developments are being proposed and are likely to have direct impacts in rural jurisdictions that have the land base to support them. In discussions with several municipal staff, it has become apparent they are uncertain how renewable electricity regulations and development will affect them. What is their role in the regulatory and approvals process? How do they balance competing interests between agriculture, ecology and renewable development? What do they need to know to make informed decisions?

Miistakis is working with municipalities to understand their environmental, social, economic concerns and opportunities, and what support tools they may need to process applications for large scale (over 1MW) solar and wind development in their municipality. Miistakis will then collaborate with stakeholders to develop the support tools required to inform decision making at the local level.


Renewable Energy Development: Ecological Fact Sheet for Municipalities

Renewable Energy Development: Regulatory Resources for Municipalities

Rural Municipal Wind and Solar Decision Support Tools: Regulatory Context Background Paper

Survey Report: Large Scale Wind & Solar Decision Support Tools for Rural Municipalities Project

Rural Municipalities and Renewable Energy Development: Education Session (January 23, 2018, Brooks, AB)


Rural Decision Support Tools for Renewable Energy Development: Progress Update (Miistakis Institute)

Organization

This project was undertaken by

Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2018

Supporters

Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties

Wheatland County

Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST)

 

Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST)

A project to help municipalities identify where renewable energy (and other land uses) is most suitable in consideration of high valued agricultural, ecological, and cultural lands

The Issue / Idea

How do municipalities balance development considerations with high value agricultural, ecological, and cultural lands?

The Project

When municipal governments consider industrial scale solar or wind energy development, it immediately becomes clear that not everywhere is suitable for those activities, and not everywhere is unsuitable. For some areas it is a clear-cut ‘yes’ or ‘no’, but most areas sit somewhere on a continuum between those two extremes.

The Miistakis Institute and the Oldman River Regional Services Commission (ORRSC) developed the Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST) to assist the Municipal District of Pincher Creek in identifying where renewable energy development is most suitable in consideration of high valued agricultural, ecological and cultural lands.

The MLUST process took six months to complete, engaged municipal stakeholders, made use of existing spatial datasets, and produced a series of map products to inform planning at the municipal scale.

MLUST engaged the municipal council and staff to identify features they valued on the landscape. Each feature was scored by stakeholders to determine each features conflict with wind and solar energy development. The most suitable areas for renewable energy development coincided with low probable conflict rating of other land uses. Renewable energy development suitability areas were also informed by removing No-Go Areas based on provincial, municipal and organizational regulations and Non-Development Areas based on existing settlement and Infrastructure.

The MLUST process can be adapted to determine the most suitable lands for any type of land use, not just renewable energy.

Prior to the development of the MLUST process, a similar process was used with Wheatland County and the County of Newell called the Least Conflict Lands. This process was later refined to create the MLUST process.


Executive Summary: Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST) for Municipal District of Pincher Creek

Municipal Land Use Suitability Tool (MLUST) for Municipal District of Pincher Creek

Executive Summary: Least Conflict Lands: Municipal Decision Support Tool for Siting Renewable Energy Development

Least Conflict Lands: Municipal Decision Support Tool for Siting Renewable Energy Development

Organization

This project was undertaken by

Miistakis Institute

Oldman River Regional Services Commission

M.D. of Pincher Creek

Wheatland County

County of Newell

Status

Least Conflict Lands Completed in

2018

MLUST Completed in

2020

Supporters

Energy Efficiency Alberta

Rural Municipalities of Alberta

The INTACT Foundation

Energy Efficiency Alberta’s Community Energy Capacity Building Program

Wheatland County

County of Newell

Modelling Developable Lands in a Municipality

 

Modelling Developable Lands in a Municipality

A Planning tool to inform discussions around future development proposals and conservation planning facing municipalities today

The Issue / Idea

Municipalities are faced with development pressure on a continuous basis. How do they balance development considerations with conservation priorities?

The Project

The Developable Lands Planning tool was created to inform discussion around future development proposals and conservation planning facing the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta. The tool overlays a series of user-selected map layers, then models them against ‘development considerations’ and ‘conservation priorities.’ Adjustments were done in real time in a multi-stakeholder workshop environment to help participants understand the consequences of various development strategies.


Developable Lands Planning One Pager

Developable Lands Mapping Tool Final Report

Organization

This project was undertaken by

Miistakis Institute

Status

Completed in

2006

Supporters

Municipality of Crowsnest Pass

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Rural Community Economic Development Program through the Crowsnest Pass Business Development Corporation and the Western Economic Partnership Agreement

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

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

Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration

 

Putting Beavers to Work for Watershed Resiliency and Restoration

A collaborative multi-year project that is focused on facilitating coexistence with beavers so their benefits as a watershed resiliency and restoration tool are realized.

The Issue / Idea

How can municipalities coexist with beavers for their watershed benefits?

The Project

Beavers, Canada’s national animal, provide many valuable ecosystem services including storage of water during droughts and flooding, creation of habitat for a variety of species, and improvement of water quality. These benefits allow for the increased watershed resiliency and restoration across the landscape. Land owners, including municipalities, can come into conflict with beavers as they can cause damage by flooding roads, plugging culverts or taking down prized trees, which can result in the removal of beavers from the landscape.

This project is a partnership between the Miistakis Institute and Cows and Fish Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society and aims to increase the coexistence of humans and beavers. By engaging with land owners and land managers this project strives to decrease conflict with beavers, foster social tolerance, and heighten understanding of the benefits that beavers provide us and the ecosystem as a whole. The project aims to achieve these goals by researching new coexistence tools, hosting hands-on coexistence workshops, and creating information materials and videos to increase awareness.

Below is a selection of resources specific to municipalities.


Webinar: Understanding Beavers as a Natural Infrastructure Solution

Slide Deck: Understanding Beavers as a Natural Infrastructure Solution

Beaver Coexistence Tools

Cost Benefit Analysis of Beaver Coexistence Tools

Putting Beavers to Work Website

Coexisting with Beavers Part 1: Municipal District of Foothills

Organization

These assessments were undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Cows and Fish – Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society

Status

Began in 2012

2012 – on-going

Supporters

Alberta Environment and Parks’ Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program (WRRP)

The Calgary Foundation

Alberta Ecotrust Foundation

Past funders

Bear Hazard Assessments for Alberta Municipalities

 

Bear Hazard Assessments for Alberta Municipalities

A series of assessments to determine the sources of human-bear conflict in specific Alberta communities.

The Issue / Idea

Can municipalities better plan for reducing conflict with bears by assessing their attractants and hazards?

The Project

As the urban and rural footprint and associated human activity in Alberta continues to increase so does the potential for human-bear interactions and conflicts. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development (ASRD) has developed the Alberta Bear-Smart Program (ABSP) as a province-wide initiative with the goal of reducing human-bear conflicts. The potential benefits of a successfully implemented ABSP include increased human safety, reduced bear mortalities and relocations and enhanced habitat security for bears.

The Bear Smart Program is a community driven process that is usually initiated with the development of a bear hazard assessment for the region of concern. A bear hazard report identifies historical and existing locations and practices that have led to human bear conflicts. These report identify gaps in the existing knowledge base in relation to bear-human conflicts and provides recommendations for reducing existing and potential conflict in the region of interest.

Three separate Bear Hazard Assessments were completed: Municipality of the Crowsnest Pass (2006), Fort McMurray Urban Service Area (2008), and the Smoky Region of Alberta (2011).


Smoky Region

Fort McMurry

Crowsnest Pass

Organization

These assessments were undertaken by

The Miistakis Institute

Status

These assessments were conducted in

2006, 2008, and 2011

Supporters

Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division