Environment

The Muskwa-Kechika Management Area (M-KMA) is one of the largest, most diverse wilderness areas in North America, with expansive forests, spectacular geological formations, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, hot springs, sub-alpine and alpine areas and major wetlands.

Home to an extensive array of wildlife

Given the recreational, commercial and industrial values represented within the M-KMA, people have a challenging task to manage activities in a manner that will maintain the wilderness character, visual quality and intrinsic values of the M-KMA. Therefore a strong information base is needed for environmental, social, and economic factors, collected through research and inventory.

A variety of environmental concepts, approaches, models and tools influence current planning and management in the M-KMA. Some of these include:

  • Ecosystem-Based Management and Ecological Integrity
  • Integrated Resource Management
  • Cumulative Effects Assessment and Management
  • Monitoring
  • Adaptive Management

Many of these concepts have areas of overlap, which may be apparent in management applications. There are also various definitions for some concepts, such as ecosystem-based management. The following broadly defines each concept.

Ecosystem-Based Management

Ecosystem-based management considers a need to actively manage human activities in a holistic manner with respect to maintaining ecological integrity, and is defined by human values (e.g. social, environmental and economic). Ecological integrity is the ability of a dynamic ecosystem to maintain fully functioning process (e.g. soil formation), as well as its ecological, biological and genetic diversity.

Integrated Resource Management

This planning approach is intended to manage and coordinate a mosaic of land uses in a single area, with dual goals of optimising sustainability and reducing user conflicts. Cumulative Effects Assessment and Management

Cumulative effects are a measure of the collective impacts to an ecosystem from the full range of activities in that ecosystem. For example oil and gas, forestry, hiking, and hunting in the same area each have separate impacts, however these impacts may add up to create a much larger impact or footprint. Managing cumulative effects ties in directly with resource management, but requires a measure of the various impacts to determine the extent of the cumulative effects.

Adaptive Management

Adaptive management is a cyclical approach used to improve management techniques over time. This concept accepts that change occurs over time in ecosystems, climate, technology, economics etc.

The following diagram shows the process concept of adaptive management (ESSA Technologies Ltd.).


Monitoring

While monitoring may be implemented as part of the Adaptive Management tool, it may also be used on its own. Monitoring is an evaluation of changes to a site based on an activity that was not originally present. For monitoring to be effective, a baseline of information is required for the site prior to the start of the activity for which monitoring is being conducted.

What Separates the M-KMA as a Model from other areas?
Although the concepts listed above are used in other locations in land use planning and management, the unique characteristics of the M-KMA such as its size, wildlife diversity and lack of linear features such as roads and seismic lines, coupled with specialised legislation, make it an ideal model to determine ecosystem characteristics, measure cumulative effects and changes over time, and implement integrated resource management and adaptive management principles.