As a catch-all term for living things, biodiversity is a challenge to integrate into local decision making. Alberta’s Biodiversity Management Framework is expected to aid in identifying objectives, monitoring and reporting on the state of biodiversity within the province. Here is the status of the Biodiversity Management Framework.


Integrating biodiversity with regional plans

Alberta’s Land-use Framework (2008) has three desired outcomes:
  1. Healthy economy supported by our land and natural resources
  2. Healthy ecosystems and environment
  3. People-friendly communities with ample recreational and cultural opportunities

It defines healthy ecosystems and environment as:

“Alberta lands should be managed to ensure healthy ecosystems. Albertans accept the responsibility to steward our land, air, water and biodiversity so that they pass on to the next generation in as good or better condition as we received them. The means to achieve this outcome may vary from region to region and be different on public and private lands, but the goal is the same.”

To dig deeper, the Land-use Framework defines biodiversity as:

The assortment of life on earth—the variety of genetic material in all living things, the variety of species on earth and the different kinds of living communities and the environments in which they occur.

Alberta’s approach to regional planning integrates economic, environmental and social goals into a unified vision. Within this vision is the stewardship of biodiversity.


Environmental Management Frameworks

While the regional plans set out the environmental goals and objectives for a region, management frameworks provide the details to managing the long-term cumulative effects of development on the environment. In short, regional plans set the goals and management frameworks outline the approach to meeting the goals. The Lower Athabasca Regional Plan and the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan require regional environmental management frameworks for air, water and biodiversity.

Biodiversity management frameworks are under development for both the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan and the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan.

From the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan Strategies (2014): “Strategy: Develop a biodiversity management framework (BMF) for public land in the Green Area. Under the LARP, management frameworks are a key approach for managing the long-term cumulative effects of development at a regional level. The BMF will identify indicators and objectives, and describe monitoring and reporting requirements on important biodiversity elements (including both species and habitats in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems) that are affected by land-use activity in the Lower Athabasca Region. The BMF will complement, but not replace, existing policies, legislation, regulation and management tools. It will provide guidance for land management as it relates to regional biodiversity objectives and outcomes.”

The approach to the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan Biodiversity Management Framework is outlined the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan in Appendix C: “The South Saskatchewan Region Biodiversity Management Framework is a new approach to support cumulative effects management of important elements of biodiversity that are affected by land-uses in the region. It is not intended to address all aspects of biodiversity. It will complement, not replace, existing programs, policies and initiatives related to managing biodiversity in the region. It will support coordination of the various approaches and tools in the region.”

Current management frameworks for the Lower Athabasca and South Saskatchewan regions are reported on every two years.


How will a Biodiversity Management Framework work?

The monitoring, evaluation and reporting processes are outlined in a 2014 document by Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development – Biodiversity Management Frameworks and Regional Plans. The biodiversity frameworks will identify key indicators that are representative of the biodiversity in a region. The indicators will attempt to represent the health of:

  1. Terrestrial species populations
  2. Aquatic species populations
  3. Terrestrial habitat
  4. Aquatic habitat

The goal is to have indicators that create a trigger process that will result in appropriate management responses.


Status of Alberta’s Biodiversity Management Frameworks

The Biodiversity Management Frameworks for the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan and the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan are still under development.

For the Lower Athabasca region, the process to develop a Biodiversity Management Framework was started in 2014 and a draft was released in 2014 of that year. Here is a summary and review of the draft by the Fort Mckay Sustainability Department.

Alberta Environment and Parks outlines the intentions for the South Saskatchewan Biodiversity Management Framework in a 2014 report. The draft was completed in November 2015.

Insight into the development process comes from Kim Lalonde, a regional planning director with the Government of Alberta. In a presentation to the South East Alberta Watershed Alliance on March 10, 2017, Lalonde spoke about the important of a biodiversity management framework:

“The economy contributes to our way of life and our quality of life. We want to ensure key elements are sustained over time while meeting economic and social outcomes and an overall vision for the region.”

Delays have been caused by the challenge of creating a management framework for biodiversity, said Lalonde.

The review of the final Biodiversity Management Framework for the South Saskatchewan Region is underway. Following the final review, the framework will have to be approved by the Alberta government.


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