The Government of Alberta is implementing a system that manages and monitors natural resource and environmental assets over larger areas beyond a project-by-project basis. Using the Integrated Resource Management (IRM) system supports management of multiple resources and land uses in an area in order to achieve environmental, economic, and social objectives.
Under the IRM system, government departments, resources managers and resource users work together to ensure the sustainable use of land and responsible resource stewardship.
Cumulative effects are the combined effects of past, present and foreseeable land use, over time, on the environment.
There is a growing understanding of how important it is to take those cumulative effects into account when making land-use decisions.
Cumulative effects management
Cumulative effects management considers environmental, economic, and social (including cultural) factors in land-use decisions. The government follows a “plan-do-check” approach to setting, meeting and evaluating place-based outcomes. Having the best possible information to regularly assess performance allows us to change our approaches as necessary to ensure objectives are achieved. This is a cross-government effort and Alberta Environment and Parks has a leadership role on the environmental components.
Cumulative effects management is:
- Collaborative: uses shared knowledge to build a culture of shared stewardship
- Comprehensive: uses both regulatory and non-regulatory approaches
- Outcomes-based: clearly defines desired results
- Performance management-based: is adaptive, to ensure achievement of desired outcomes
- Place-based: meets the varied needs of all regions in the province
Results of effective management
When cumulative effects management is properly done, we can:
- identify and maximize land-use opportunities
- develop and achieve place-based environmental, social, and economic goals
- make better decisions
- prevent adverse effects on the environment
- simplify regulatory requirements
- ensure that all provincial policies align
More information about cumulative effects management can be found in the Land-use Framework.
Environmental management frameworks
Environmental management frameworks work with existing policy, legislation, and regulation to achieve cumulative effects management. We develop these frameworks with input from local governments, First Nations, Métis organizations, stakeholders and the public. Environmental management frameworks:
- identify desired regional objectives
- require reporting on the current state of the environment
- identify emerging trends, challenges and opportunities
- identify key indicators and set regional thresholds for the indicators
- commit to monitoring and evaluating progress
- lay the groundwork for reporting information to the public
When an Environmental Management Framework is completed, its key components include:
- Regional objectives
- Indicators and associated thresholds that serve as signals of changing conditions
- Guidance for monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the indicators
- A collaborative management response process to be followed if thresholds are crossed