Integrated Land Management in Alberta's Berland Smoky Region

We collaborate with other industrial users to develop integrated land management strategies to address the collective industrial footprint on the landscape, through programs such as the Foothills Landscape Management Forum (FLMF), to minimize the impact of all of the operations in the forest.

West Fraser is an active member of the innovative Foothills Landscape Management Forum partnership, which brings together the energy, forest and government sectors operating in the Berland Smoky region. The Forum members were awarded with a  “Shared Footprints” Award for our collaborative efforts.  Here’s some background about integrated land management activities in West Fraser’s Hinton Forest Management Area, which includes a portion of the Berland Smoky region:

WORKING TOGETHER TO MINIMIZE IMPACTS IN ALBERTA’S BERLAND SMOKY REGION

Alberta’s Berland Smoky region is a diverse landscape rich in many natural resources. The one million hectare (3861 square mile) area supports a number of competing economic, social, cultural and environmental interests. In this region, many companies have acquired overlapping rights to develop the resources in the area. This creates a very busy landscape.

When a company develops resources in the region it must comply with government regulations related to its business. When many companies operate in the same area, it can result in overlapping responsibilities that do not appropriately address the cumulative impact to the land base.

West Fraser is a founding member of the Foothills Landscape Management Forum (FLMF). The Forum is an innovative partnership that brings together the energy, forest and government sectors operating in the area to collaborate on the development of a coordinated plan, called the Berland Smoky Regional Access Development (RAD) Plan.

The RAD Plan incorporates input from government, First Nations, the public and specialists as well as industry stakeholders to develop a working example for managing the cumulative effects of industrial activity and develop solutions that help protect environmental values such as water, fisheries and species at risk recovery.

For example, the RAD Plan looked closely at all the existing and planned primary and secondary transportation corridors needed to support all the approved development in the area. The Forum identified these routes and assessed how they would affect two key environmental considerations: caribou and grizzly bear in the area. The result of this study was the relocation of roads to minimize environmental impact and provide an efficient, safe and reduced network compared to the traditional approach. By working together, the Forum expects that the overall road density resulting from the RAD Plan will be thirty to fifty per cent less than a typical approach.

The RAD Plan goes well beyond any statutory duties or legal requirements, it is a unique collaboration and an example of how different companies can work together to minimize their ecological footprint.

This year, West Fraser and its industry partners in the Forum were honoured with a “Shared Footprints” Award from the Foothills Research Institute recognizing the innovative and effective work in developing a model for comprehensive sustainable resource development planning across industry sectors. 

The Forum partners continue to work together to find opportunities to minimize their ecological footprint.

Get information about the Foothills Research Institute site or click here to learn more about the Forum.

Photo courtesy of the Foothills Research Institute