Review of Four Major Environmental Effects Monitoring Programs in the Oil Sands Region

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  • There is a general lack of awareness of existing environmental effects monitoring programs for the mineable oil sands region. As a result, there is low public confidence in the nature and extent of the current environment health monitoring and reporting programs for the oil sands with respect to potential impacts of these developments on environmental and human health. The purpose of this study was to engage four main environmental effects monitoring and reporting organizations currently operating in the oil sands area to document their programs. Through an engagement and validation process, program information was tagged, inventoried and characterized. Each of these organizations is unique; they all play specialized roles in providing information, data and understanding of ecosystem effects. These organizations also provide vital monitoring information based on their media, or domain expertise that is essential to understanding the ecosystem health and human health of the oil sands area. The resultant information was captured and presented in the form of a one-page visual Summary of Environmental Effects Monitoring in the Oil Sands Area. Additional contextual information adds to the understanding of the current state and is presented as a Chronology of Environmental Effects Monitoring Activities (1990-2010). Detailed Fact Sheets are provided for each of the four monitoring programs: • Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) • Cumulative Environmental Management Association (CEMA) • Regional Aquatic Monitoring Program (RAMP) • Wood Buffalo Environmental Association (WBEA) The report concludes by making some observations of the programs studied. The recommendations presented represent possible next steps to build on this body of work. The central observation and recommendation is that stakeholders, including the monitoring program staff themselves, lack a detailed understanding of the full suite of monitoring activities taking place in the oil sands area and in moving forward, a more integrated approach would benefit both the existing environmental effects monitoring programs and the ability to speak authoritatively about oil sands ecosystem effects as a whole.

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    Attribution 3.0 International