Key Finding: Biodiversity intactness in the region is 94%
EDMONTON, Dec. 5, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the Alberta Biodiversity
Monitoring Institute (ABMI) released a comprehensive report - the first
of its kind - on the status of Alberta's species in the Athabasca Oil
Sands Area (AOSA).
Found in northeastern Alberta, the AOSA makes up 14% of Alberta's land
area, and is central to Alberta's economy. Situated within the Boreal
Forest Natural Region, the AOSA has a robust forest industry. It also
contains the Athabasca oil sands deposit, which represents 77% of
Canada's proven oil reserves and supports a growing energy extraction
sector. Managing the cumulative effects of economic activity in the
area requires transparent and credible scientific data on the state of
the region's environment.
The ABMI report "The Status of Biodiversity in the Athabasca Oil Sands"
examines the status of over 350 species (plants and animals) in the
AOSA and highlights those that show the most sensitivity to human
development using the Biodiversity Intactness Index (a measure of how
much more or less common a species is relative to an undisturbed
landscape free of human footprint). The Biodiversity Intactness Index
for the AOSA is 94%. The report evaluates two additional sub-regions -
the Active In-situ Region and the Surface Mineable Region - and found
biodiversity intactness to be 91% and 86%, respectively.
Species that prefer old-forest habitat, like the marten, fisher, and
bay-breasted warbler are examples of species found to be less abundant
than would be expected in an undisturbed area. In contrast, species
that thrive in areas with human development, such as the coyote and
song sparrow, have higher abundance than would be expected in an
As of 2010, 6.8% of the AOSA showed visible evidence of human footprint,
with forest harvesting accounting for the largest human footprint type
in the region at 3.1%. Human footprint in the Active In-situ region was
7.7%; whereas, in the Surface Mineable Region, it measured 20.8%.
Energy infrastructure was the largest human footprint type in the
Surface Mineable Region at 16.8%.
"This report is a good example of the ABMI's contributions to provincial
monitoring efforts," said Ernie Hui, Environmental Monitoring Chief
Executive Officer with Environment and Sustainable Resource
Development. "The data they are presenting provides information that
the newly created Alberta Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and
Reporting Agency can draw upon when it begins reporting on the
condition of the environment in the new year."
ABMI Executive Director Kirk Andries said, "This report serves as an
ecological baseline from which we can measure change over time. It is a
powerful tool for evaluating land use planning outcomes related to
biodiversity in this region. This information will be valuable to a
diversity of stakeholders interested in sustainability and responsible
resource development in the oil sands area. The goal of the ABMI is to
provide unbiased, evidence-based information about status and trends in
biodiversity for the purpose of informing management."
Data and information used in this report was partially funded through
the Joint Oil Sands Monitoring (JOSM) program, a joint
federal-provincial environmental monitoring program established in
2012. JOSM was designed to ensure that air, water, biodiversity and
toxicology monitoring efforts in the AOSA are independent, credible,
coordinated and transparent.
Download a copy of the report at www.abmi.ca. Available 11:00 am MST.
The ABMI will be holding a media event on Thursday December 5, 10:30 am,
at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. Visit http://bit.ly/1dNWXVe for the media advisory. The event will also be live streamed at www.abmi.ca.
About the ABMI
The Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) is an arm's-length,
not-for-profit scientific organization. The ABMI's core business is to
monitor and report on the status and trends of Alberta's species,
native habitat, and human footprint. ABMI provides relevant, timely,
and credible scientific information to support natural resource and
land use decision-making in Alberta. More on ABMI is available at abmi.ca.
SOURCE: Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute
For further information:
Communication Manager, ABM (780) 492-5531