Alberta's energy industries and impacts on wilderness
AWA’s mandate throughout its four decades has been the protection of intact, representative ecosystems across Alberta. In areas where economic development is integrated within a working landscape, AWA supports robust management, regulation, and enforcement strategies. AWA believes that energy exploration and development must be regulated in a manner that is consistent with the maintenance of wilderness values.
We believe in a fundamental need for wilderness that is free of industrial incursion; a network of legislated protected areas is currently the only framework under which this can be ensured. Outside of such areas, exploration and development must be conducted in an environmentally responsible manner. Full-field life-cycle planning must be required for all new developments including phase-out, remediation, and reclamation. Adequate reclamation liability must be assessed on a per-project basis that accounts for all remediation and reclamation costs, and does not leave Albertan’s vulnerable to major financial risks.
AWA believes Alberta’s wilderness and natural capital are non-renewable resources of immeasurable value, and must be considered as such and given priority in land-use planning. An overarching land-use plan is desperately needed in Alberta to set targets for all sectors, determine thresholds and establish priorities for land use throughout the province. Conservation areas must be designated with legal protection.
When considering land disturbance impacts, the cumulative footprint of all past, present and planned developments upon the landscape must be considered. Energy development does not take place in isolation: it occurs on a landscape also impacted by forestry, residential and recreational developments. The combined footprint of all of these activities must be considered in planning decisions.
Collectively, we know that the economic value of the ecosystem services performed by natural ecosystems for humankind far exceeds that of industrial development.
AWA has been involved with Shell Canada as they work to restore landscapes once active with drilling and extraction; Waterton 12 is one such site (shown above).
Seen in the photo are AWA and Shell Canada employees discussing the process and early results of reclamation efforts at this site that has reached its full life-cycle.