Your questions… Do pipelines affect animal migration or habitat?

For three weeks last fall, the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA) with funding from the International Pipeline Conference Foundation and TELUS Spark, an interactive Calgary science museum, worked together to present a temporary display about pipeline technology.

More than 10,000 TELUS Spark visitors of all ages had the opportunity to learn about leading-edge technology that helps keep pipelines safe.

The display included a talking wall, which allowed visitors to share their thoughts on sticky notes. In today’s blog, we respond to another note from the TELUS Spark talking wall.

 

Migration and habitat are critical considerations for pipeline design

 

With approximately 118,000 kilometres of transmission pipelines crossing Canada, it’s understandable that construction and maintenance activities could affect animal habitats from time to time. That’s why animal habitats and migration patterns are factored into the earliest planning and design stages for pipeline projects, right through the construction phase, and throughout the life-cycle of the pipeline.

For some highly sensitive species, such as caribou and grizzly bears, regulators require projects to submit ‘species-specific’ plans that fully describe all mitigation and monitoring measures.

 

Example: How CEPA members protect caribou

 

Caribou are among the most sensitive species to changes in land use. Over time, linear installations, such as roads, pipelines, seismic lines and other human activities, have opened up access for predators to the caribou, particularly wolves.

Some caribou herds are so small that even one death can have a profound effect on their populations. Caribou are creatures of habit, which puts them at higher risk and can make it more challenging to mitigate any impacts. For example, pregnant females will return, year after year, to their favourite calving sites regardless of activity in the area.

CEPA members work closely with wildlife biologists who have an in-depth understanding of caribou ecology and habitat restoration techniques. Together, they develop plans to mitigate, restore, offset, and monitor the effects of pipeline construction and operation on caribou populations, with the goal of meeting or exceeding the regulators’ requirements. Some of the mitigation measures the pipeline industry has in place include:

  • Timing restrictions for construction to avoid high-risk periods, such as calving and migration.
  • Access controls to deter humans and predators from travelling along the right-of-way (ROW).
  • Line-of-sight measures, such as planting tall trees, or installing fences or berms, to limit visibility along the ROW.
  • Spreading woody debris along the ROW to slow the rate of wolf movement.
  • Planting native vegetation that will restore the ecosystem and not attract deer or moose, which can cause a chain reaction by attracting wolves.

In addition, regulators require pipeline project proponents and operators to monitor and report on the effectiveness of their plans, and that includes spelling out how they will adapt their measures if they’re not meeting stated objectives.

If you want to know more about how our members protect species at risk, check out these blog posts: