New Guidelines for Wetlands sent to Government



    FORT MCMURRAY, AB, Dec. 18 /CNW/ - The Cumulative Environmental
Management Association (CEMA) has completed new Guidelines for Wetland
Establishment on Reclaimed Oil Sands Leases. These have been forwarded to the
Government of Alberta where CEMA has recommended that these Guidelines be
approved as policy. Wetlands, including muskeg, marshes and shallow ponds,
cover approximately half of the natural landscape in the oil sands region,
composing a major component of the undisturbed boreal ecosystem.
    This second edition of the Wetlands Guidelines is an update of the state
of knowledge regarding reclamation of wetlands in the oil sands region and
describes an integrated approach to the planning, design, construction,
monitoring and adaptive management of reclaimed wetlands.
    The Guidelines received unanimous approval from the CEMA Board earlier
this year with direction to forward the document to the Government of Alberta
for consideration. This up-to-date research on reclamation in the region is an
important Guideline for industry to return developed areas to wetlands.
    "The new Wetlands Guidelines will be a helpful tool to reclaim better
wetlands for the residents of the region including First Nations and Métis
communities," added CEMA President Randall Barrett. "This living document
showcases the great work of CEMA and the continued importance of ongoing
research and study of reclamation in the areas affected by development."

    CEMA is a nonprofit Association based in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Through
five active working groups, CEMA's mandate is to study the cumulative
environmental effects of industrial development in the region and produce
guidelines and management frameworks recommendations.
    For a full copy of the new Guideline and its appendices please visit
www.cemaonline.ca.

    
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                                 Backgrounder
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                     Wetland Reclamation Recommendation
                     ----------------------------------
                 By the: Wetlands & Aquatics Subgroup (WASG)

                       Reclamation Working Group (RWG)

    The details for each of the following sections are contained in the
"Guidelines for Wetland Establishment on Reclaimed Oil Sands Leases Revised
(2007) Edition" report. The following summary information is provided.

    1. BACKGROUND
       1.1 Issue

       Reclamation of wetlands in areas with existing and planned oil sands
       development activities in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
       (RMWB).

       1.2 Goal

       The goal of the Guidelines is to support the creation of a range of
       sustainable wetlands (such as muskeg, marshes and shallow ponds) in
       the Athabasca oil sands region. The intent of the Guidelines is to
       provide advice on design criteria and performance measurements for
       created wetlands that are accepted by industry, regulators, aboriginal
       communities and other regional stakeholders.

       1.3 Rationale

       There are decades of experience and research within the Regional
       Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) and beyond that can provide
       guidance on considerations for wetland establishment in the oil sands
       reclaimed landscape. These Guidelines are a synthesis of the current
       state of knowledge on wetlands reclamation. In addition, the
       Guidelines satisfy a key RWG objective and constitute a subset of
       reclamation guidelines for the Athabasca oil sands region. We
       anticipate that the Guidelines will be a valuable resource to oil
       sands companies, regulators, and stakeholders planning for,
       conducting, and involved with wetland construction in the oil sands
       region.

       1.4 Process Used to Generate the Recommendation

       The Guidelines are a revision of the First Edition (1999). A series of
       workshops with stakeholders and technical experts were conducted in
       2003 to generate a list of gaps and work plan items. These items were
       subsequently addressed by the WASG and are included in the Second
       Edition. The Second Edition was first drafted in March 2006 and was
       revised 3 times before approval by WASG in February 2007. RWG and CEMA
       approved the Guidelines in May and October 2007, respectively. As
       reclamation guidelines are based on up-to-date work and research, a
       Third Edition is expected in 2011.

    2. RECOMMENDATION

    Adoption of these Guidelines by the Government of Alberta and inclusion of
these Guidelines into the regulatory frameworks/mechanisms addressing
reclamation in the Athabasca oil sands region (i.e., EPEA operating approvals,
reclamation certification).

    3. BENEFITS AND COSTS

    Main costs/benefits include:

    -   an approach to wetlands reclamation that is accepted by stakeholders
        and consistent among operators;

    -   ease of use - a document that can be quickly and easily used by mine
        planners;

    -   convenience - one document that includes the most up-to-date and
        accepted information/approach on wetland reclamation;

    -   support for reclamation certification;

    -   improved efficiency of reclamation planning; and

    -   improved success and reduced cost of reclamation by pooling regional
        reclamation experiences.

    4. IMPLEMENTATION

    The Guidelines are a "living document" to be revised as new information
becomes available. The Guidelines are already referenced in the new (2007)
EPEA operating approvals issued to oil sands mines by Alberta Environment, and
there is buy-in from some of the oil sands operators to use them to plan &
construct wetlands (fens) and their watersheds by December 31, 2012.
Acceptance of this recommendation is not anticipated to affect planning or
operations as the operators have been working within WASG and RWG directly. It
is assumed that because the Guidelines are referenced in the new approvals and
because they were developed in concert with industry, the pathway for
implementation already exists.
    




For further information:

For further information: Corey Hobbs, Communications Advisor, Cumulative
Environmental Management Association, (780) 799-3912,
Corey.hobbs@cemaonline.ca

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