Dr. Faisal Moula presented the Joint Review Panel with the commissioned report by Global Forest Watch Canada, who conducted a spatial analysis of industrial land use pressures and changes of a 56,000 square foot area in the region from 1974 to 2010.
“Overall our analysis of spatial impacts going back over forty years has shown that 20 per cent of the Peace Region has been directly impacted by industrial activities to date,” he explains, adding that their estimates are conservative. “However, when buffered by 500 metres to establish an ecological footprint, a well-known threshold in peer-reviewed literature, an astonishing 70 per cent of the Peace Region has now been disturbed by human land use.”
He notes as well that the research does not address the quality of ecosystems as a result from previous and proposed development.
Moula describes the area as an “irreplaceable pinch point” within the Yellowstone to Yukon corridor, and a conservation priortity for protection of wildlife habitat and animal movement corridors. He argues the report confirms that the cumulative effects on the region where the Site C dam would be located are “significant” and “unprecedented” in Canada, and going ahead the project would only worsen them.
“Local First Nations, community groups in the Peace, and environmental groups like the David Suzuki Foundation are concerned that further expansion and intensification of the industrial footprint in the region with Site C will cause irrevocable ecological harm, as well as impact community well-being by degrading these critical ecosystem services.”
Panel member Jocelyn Beaudet noted that in her 20 years experience with cumulative effects assessments, they were always done in the context of a region, and this is the first time she’s seen a project-specific assessment.