The Status of Land Cover and Biodiversity in the Kakwa River Project Area: Preliminary Assessment 2021

Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute
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This report presents data on several indicators of environmental health for the Kakwa River Project area where ARC Resources operates in northwestern Alberta.
The Kakwa River Project area covers approximately 277,000 ha in northwestern Alberta. The state of the
environment is assessed at two scales of analysis in this report:

  • Region (2,300,000 ha), which is an ecologically-based analysis unit defined by five tertiary watersheds that overlap the Kakwa River Project area. All land cover and species metrics are summarized at this scale.
  • Lease Area (277,000 ha), which is equivalent to the Kakwa River Project area; this is defined by the operating boundaries of ARC’s Kakwa asset. Only land cover metrics are summarized at this scale

As of 2018, the total human footprint in the Lease Area was 38.9%. Forestry was the predominant human footprint at 34.7%. Energy footprint covered 2.1%.
In the Lease Area, total human footprint increased by 18.3 percentage points between 2000 and 2019,
from 20.7% to 39.0%. Increase was primarily driven by forestry footprint (16.8 percentage point increase) while energy footprint had a small increase of 0.8 percentage points.
Linear footprint density (circa 2018) was estimated to be 3.04 km/km2 in the Lease Area and 3.46  km/kmin the Region. Conventional seismic lines are the predominant linear feature type, representing 54.4% of lines in the Lease Area.
The area of native habitat in the Lease Area was 61.1%, with 10.5% of that habitat at least 500 m from
any human footprint.

The ABMI assessed the cumulative effects of land disturbance on 630 species in the Region as measured by the Biodiversity Intactness Index; intactness was found to be, on average, 85.7%. Intactness for each species group was:

  • 83.2% for native birds
  • 88.2% for mammals
  • 87.0% for soil mites
  • 84.8% for native vascular plants
  • 87.3% for mosses, and
  • 83.6% for lichen.

The biggest changes to intactness are associated with increaser species i.e. species that are predicted to increase in abundance as a result of human footprint. These species thrive in areas with human
development, such as Coyote and Black-billed Magpie.