A Brief History of LEAPLEAP (Landscape Ecological Assessment & Planning) was developed in 2010 by the Oil Sands Leadership Initiative (OSLI) and Silvacom, with participation from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. LEAP is a framework and tool to provide resource development and restoration options for large landscapes over long time frames. This innovative, science-based instrument assists in landscape planning by applying geospatial modeling and optimization techniques to temporal land use and ecological data for analyzing restoration scenarios.
In 2010, the first LEAP program began in the Algar area, located in Northeast Alberta between Cold Lake and Fort McMurray. Strategic objectives defined by OSLI under the pilot program included:
- Protecting ecological integrity
- Minimizing use of access corridors
- Addressing forest fragmentation
- Increasing caribou habitat intactness
- Accelerating reclamation activities
- Increasing carbon offsets
- Reducing the landscape’s industrial footprint
OSLI was a collaborative network of six oil sands developers who focused on accelerating environmental, social and economic performance. OSLI has grown and transitioned to a larger collective known as Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA). Silvacom continues to work with these six companies to help them use LEAP in their restoration programs.
Working with OSLI, Silvacom developed the LEAP 4 Part Process, taking the data, analyzing it, developing various plan scenarios for consideration, and communicating options back to stakeholders. Once a plan was selected, Silvacom also oversaw implementation and monitoring steps in the LEAP program.
To date, the implementation of LEAP has restored over 370km of linear footprint & winter tree planting activities have had up to a 95% survival rate.