William A Gardner
The Southern Foothills Study (SFS) was initiated by the Southern Alberta Land Trust Society (SALTS) in 2005 with the support of the ranching community of Southwestern Alberta. The purpose of the study was to investigate the ecological health of the foothills area. It was a precursor as well as one of the drivers of the Alberta Land Stewardship Act process. The SFS was a response to concerns by ecologists and ranchers that the native fescue grasslands were being lost and this would negatively impact traditional ranching as well as the quality of the foothills as a key watershed.
The Changing Landscape of the Southern Alberta Foothills
There is an increasing awareness in society, government, and the economic and environmental communities that the value of the ecological goods and services (EGS) provided by an intact and healthy environment is considerable. Without effective landuse planning processes based on cumulative effects and protecting natural capital, we may well lose the value of these assets, and the ecological goods and services provided by this landscape.
The Southern Foothills Study used the cumulative effects science of Dr. Brad Stelfox to measure the health of the foothills ecosystem. The study discusses whether the ecosystem health is stable or declining based on a set of key indicators and the activities that are driving change.
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