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Silvacom is now using the Landscape Ecological Assessment and Planning (LEAP) framework in Northeast British Columbia (NEBC) to manage Area-based Analysis (ABA) thresholds set by the designated oil and gas regulation agency in the province – the British Columbia Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC).

WHAT ARE THESE THRESHOLDS?

In spring 2013, the BCOGC implemented an ABA approach to regulating the Liard Basin in NEBC. This approach merges existing oil and gas activity assessment regulations and land-use plans with certain environmental and social values into one overall framework. The BCOGC hopes to use this approach to implement regulations for all of NEBC within the next year.

The environmental and social values identified in the Liard Basin include:

  • Riparian intactness
  • Riparian stream-flow
  • Old growth forest
  • High priority wildlife habitat
  • Boreal caribou
  • Resource features and cultural heritage resources

HOW LEAP HELPS

Using LEAP, Silvacom has been able to help their clients assess the amount of historic footprint on the landscape, baseline the current state of riparian and caribou habitat intactness, determine old growth forest and most importantly assess how a proposed development would measure against these new thresholds with or without restoration.

Furthermore, we have developed a ‘Project Landscape Assessment Template’ to easily coordinate the process from project level planning to landscape level analysis. Within this template, planned activity type is outlined alongside numerous landscape indicators such as forest cover type, seral stage, potential water crossings, caribou habitat and riparian areas.

LEAP enables us to define the restoration activities that will be required to offset a proposed development at the very beginning of the planning process. Firstly, a restoration area is chosen then we summarize adjacent forest lead species, stand heights, cover type, seral stage and crown closure, which in turn allows us to define preliminary treatments to be prescribed for the chosen area.

Once the proposed development and restoration program is outlined, the overall landscape level analysis is completed in order to measure:

  • Current state
  • Post planned development activities
  • Post restoration activities
  • 30 year predicted state

Simultaneously, once we know how much each threshold will be affected by the proposed development, we can leverage LEAP to create project focused restoration programs that help offset development in the most specific way possible. LEAP allows us to customize the restoration program to prioritize certain targets based on the results of our initial intensive analysis. The overall result means we help our clients stay well within the BCOGC thresholds and also improve the current state of some indicators, which can help earn and maintain their social license to operate, and achieve company-chosen environmental goals.

CURRENT CHALLENGES

The ABA in NEBC is an ongoing initiative that is continually evolving to encompass new information and learnings, government policy updates, and recent activities on the landscape. This means our ‘Project Landscape Assessment Template’ will also need to continually evolve to remain relevant and effective. This is a challenge we have already begun to overcome with the development of our Comprehensive Automated Land Inventory (CALI) program, which provides the most up-to-date representation of the forest condition on the landbase.

For more information on the BCOGC Area-based Analysis approach please visit: http://www.bcogc.ca/node/8254/download

For more information on the Landscape Ecological Assessment and Planning (LEAP) framework please visit: http://leap.silvacom.com/the-leap-framework

For more information on Silvacom’s SDMS (Surface Development Management System) please visit: http://sdms.silvacom.com/