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Wednesday, 29 March 2017 08:00

Biodiversity management framework still in the works for South Saskatchewan Region

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Kim Lalonde, regional planning director with Alberta Environment, spoke about the South Saskatchewan Region Biodiversity Management Framework at the Environmental Stewardship on the Farm event hosted by the South East Alberta Watershed Alliance March 10. Kim Lalonde, regional planning director with Alberta Environment, spoke about the South Saskatchewan Region Biodiversity Management Framework at the Environmental Stewardship on the Farm event hosted by the South East Alberta Watershed Alliance March 10. Photo by Rose Sanchez

A biodiversity management framework in the South Saskatchewan Region is meant to support economic and community growth not hinder it, yet at the same time help in preventing any new species becoming “at risk.”


That was one of the key messages from Kim Lalonde, a regional planning director with Alberta Environment, who spoke at the March 10 Environmental Stewardship on the Farm event in Medicine Hat hosted by the South East Alberta Watershed Alliance.
“Biodiversity is talking about all living things in ecosystems,” said Lalonde. “There is a great diversity of landscapes in this part of the world.”
She said a biodiversity management framework is a complementary piece to the bigger puzzle that makes up regional plans.
“Part of our mandate is to support economic and community growth. We want to make sure the policy piece is driving improved practices.”
A key purpose of the policy is to minimize the extent and the duration of the human footprint.
“Considering the aspect of species at risk — we want to assist in preventing any new species at risk emerging in this part of the world,” she explained.
Lalonde said it is recognized that the diverse economy of southern Alberta contributes to the vitality and prosperity of the communities within the region.
“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,” she added.
Creating a framework is about building a foundation of approaches for managing biodiversity, taking proactive actions now and creating management responses that can be used in the future as needed.
A set of indicators that represent valued components of biodiversity health will be measurable and span across species, habitats and landscapes. Those indicators will reflect whether biodiversity outcomes and objectives are being met and when measured will provide information on the overall conditions. Another key to the framework are triggers, which is “a threshold or point where a change in biodiversity conditions has occurred and a management response is warranted.”
“These are markers in the system — how we are doing with conditions. They are points where we need to pay more attention,” said Lalonde.
She offered some examples of what a management response could look like once the biodiversity management framework is implemented. Early action is key to that response.
Government officials would identify where there is a trigger and engage with parties who can assist in rectifying the situation. On public land this is collaborative, while on private land it is a combination of collaborative and discretionary work. The draft biodiversity management framework was completed in November of 2015 after two engagement sessions. A third engagement session was added through the winter with review of the final framework currently underway.  It has yet to be approved by the provincial government.
“We’ve had a lot of input from stakeholders. Questions on the triggers and implementation and a lot of input on the management responses and how the system would work,” added Lalonde.
Local municipal governments have also been vocal about the draft framework and government officials decided to extend their timeline for gathering input from municipal governments and were spending the past year doing that.
Lalonde pointed out it has taken some time to draft the biodiversity management framework but that’s because that work has been challenging. She added officials are working to prepare the final draft of the biodiversity management framework and hopefully it will be ready for government review soon.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor