Research And Monitoring
From the onset of Al-Pac's operations in 1993, Company leadership decided Al-Pac would be a leading environmental performer in all aspects of its business from forestry practices to mill operations. We have initiated industry-leading forest management planning and operational practices including ecosystem management, land-use zonation strategies and integrated landscape management.
Al-Pac's investment in forest-related research is designed to increase our understanding of the various components of the boreal forest, how these elements are linked in terms of ecological processes and function and how Al-Pac's activities may affect these processes or functions. Research questions are designed to address things we do not know or validate things we currently do in our planning and practices. Al-Pac's research activities have advanced the understanding of boreal ecology and provided credible direction for forest management.
Alberta-Pacific invests in research to answer these questions and many more. Most of the research is conducted by independent scientists from highly-respected institutions, including the Universities of Alberta and Calgary, as well as Alberta Innovates (formerly the Alberta Research Council), to incorporate the best available knowledge and expertise.
Research and development is conducted in all key result areas of our business, including impacts on cost, production, environment, safety and community. The projects and overall research program is driven by continuous improvement and adaptive management: testing, monitoring and evaluating applied strategies, and incorporating resulting new knowledge into management approaches to continually improve our sustainable management policies, strategies, and practices.
Al-Pac's research and monitoring activities have been designed to support progress towards achieving our various forest management objectives, and ultimately environmental sustainability. These are illustrated by the Knowledge-Based Best Practices wheel.
Under sustainable resource management systems, monitoring information is needed to assess the effectiveness of policies and programs, demonstrate that management plans have been implemented and regulatory requirements met. There are two main types of monitoring: effectiveness monitoring and compliance monitoring.
Effectiveness monitoring confirms if management actions are effective at achieving the objectives they were designed to address and provides insight into what changes might be needed when desired outcomes are not attained.
Compliance monitoring is a means to demonstrate that Al-Pac did what we said we would do in our forest management or reforestation plans, as well as demonstrating that regulatory requirements have been met. Forest management audits are another type of compliance monitoring that is completed in association with our Forest Stewardship Council certification.
Woodland caribou are located in the mountain, foothill and boreal forest regions of Canada. They are found in small groups (generally less than 15 individuals) within peatland complexes that contain significant areas of lichen-producing forested bogs and fens. They are listed as threatened under the Alberta Wildlife Act and federally under the Species at Risk Act.
The poplar farming program, the intensive management component of Al-Pac's Zonation Approach, is designed to ensure a guaranteed supply of high-quality fibre close to the mill while providing crop diversification options for local landowners.
Fire has shaped Alberta's boreal forests for 10,000 years. Boreal forest plants, animals and ecosystems have adapted to fires that sweep through the forest every 60 to 150 years. Fire creates unique new habitats for wildlife and helps maintain the natural balance of young and old forests found in the Al-Pac FMA area.
Alberta-Pacific recognizes the Company can make a meaningful contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions linked to global climate change. In early 2000, Al-Pac established a goal to follow the principles of the Kyoto Accord and accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with the overall objective of becoming carbon neutral by 2008. This included implementing Kyoto-related initiatives to achieve a six per cent reduction in emissions based on 1990 levels. As a by-product of Al-Pac’s aggressive carbon management efforts, the company pulp mill operation became carbon neutral in 2006 – two years ahead of target.
Watersheds are dynamic systems integrating geology, geography, flowing water and biological communities that change with seasonal cycles. Streams and rivers, lakes and ponds, riparian zones and wetlands are all elements of a watershed and provide important habitat for many wildlife and fish species.
Ecological benchmarks are large, intact protected areas that are free of industrial development and represent the range of forest and habitat types present in an area. Benchmark areas in the Al-Pac FMA area act as an indicator of what an undeveloped, natural forest would look like allowing enabling us to better understand how our activities may change the forest. More importantly, ecological benchmarks provide a guide or template of what the surrounding forest should look like after harvesting and reforestation occurs.
Alberta-Pacific's management area in northeastern Alberta is experiencing unprecedented oil and gas development. Development associated with oil and gas resources results in the removal of thousands of hectares of forestland for exploration and development in roads, seismic lines, pipelines, well-sites, insitu operations and mines.
Perhaps the most important and challenging part of ecosystem management is putting research and theory into practice. Communication between scientists and woodlands operations is crucial to the success of implementing ecosystem management practices. Alberta-Pacific's goal is to ensure our operational procedures remain ecologically and economically viable.
Biodiversity, also referred to as biological diversity, refers to the variety and abundance of species - from micro-organisms to moose - and the natural communities, ecosystems, and landscapes in which they occur. Nature and biodiversity provide life-sustaining services: clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, soil for agriculture, plants for medicines and much more. Biodiversity is also an indicator of how well land and water systems are functioning.