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  • AASHE-STARS

The Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System™ (STARS) is a transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.

Overall Rating Gold
Overall Score 69.67
Liaison Trina Innes
Submission Date June 30, 2017
Executive Letter Download

STARS v2.1

University of Alberta
OP-10: Biodiversity

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 0.00 / 2.00 Ray Dumouchel
Associate Director, Buildings and Grounds Services
Operations and Maintenance
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution own or manage land that includes or is adjacent to legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance?:
Yes

A brief description of the legally protected areas, internationally recognized areas, priority sites for biodiversity, and/or regions of conservation importance:

MATTHEIS RANCH
http://rri.ualberta.ca/About-Us/Our-Facilities/Mattheis-Research-Ranch
http://www.westernskylandtrust.ca/accomplishments/mattheis-ranch.html

Mattheis Research Ranch is part of a large contiguous tract of rangeland with diverse topography, vegetation and wildlife. It protects approximately 5,000 hectares within the dry mixed grass natural subregion of Alberta. The ranch is adjacent to the Red Deer River in the north, and encompasses a creek, wetlands, vegetated sand hills, and shrublands.

This land was donated to the University of Alberta in 2010 by Edwin and Ruth Mattheis. In 2015 a conservation agreement was signed with the Western Sky Land Trust to preserve the land. The conservation agreement most closely resembles International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) protected land type VI: Sustainable use of natural resources (managed resource protected area). One of the key objectives of the agreement is the retention and conservation of native grassland ecosystems.


Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify endangered and vulnerable species (including migratory species) with habitats on institution-owned or –managed land?:
No

Has the institution conducted an assessment or assessments to identify environmentally sensitive areas on institution-owned or –managed land?:
No

The methodologies used to identify endangered and vulnerable species and/or environmentally sensitive areas (including most recent year assessed) and any ongoing assessment and monitoring mechanisms:

Assessments have not been done for the entire institution, but some were done for the Mattheis Ranch. However, none of these were done recently and are not part of an ongoing environmental assessment and monitoring program that would quality for this credit.

MATTHEIS RANCH
There were rare species scans done when two power lines were built on the property. Both were regulated disturbances, and as such, were required to conduct rare plant and animal surveys.

WESTERN SKY LAND TRUST
The Western Sky Land Trust conducted a baseline environmental assessment and an assessment on shrub encroachment (into prairie or grasslands). They have also captured some aerial imagery and video using a drone.

TREE INVENTORY
Buildings and Grounds Services maintains an inventory of all trees on university grounds; there are over 5,700 trees in the inventory.


A brief description of identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

MATTHEIS RANCH

The Mattheis Ranch covers approximately 5,000 hectares. About 4,000 hectares is native grassland, including loamy mixedgrass and sandgrass-dominated prairie, river coulee breaks, and riparian areas. Dominant grass species include needle-and-thread (Hesperostipa comata), Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), and sand grass (Calamovilfa longifolia). The plant community also includes several forbs, such as pasture sage (Artemisia frigida) and scarlet mallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea); and shrubs, including prickly rose (Rosa acicularis), western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis), and thorny buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea).

More than 30 species on the ranch are listed as endangered, threatened or of special concern, according the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) and the Government of Alberta's Species At Risk (SAR) listing. In addition, prime habitat has been identified on the property for another 16 SAR, including either species of special concern or threatened species.

Irrigation-fed wetlands cover approximately 400 hectares. The water that circulates through these wetlands, most of which were created by Ducks Unlimited Canada in 1952, is delivered to 250 hectares of cultivated land that is used to grow winter cattle feed, spring grazing pasture and annual crops. Irrigation water also augments several of the property’s natural wetlands.

NORTH CAMPUS FOREST RESERVE

North Campus is situated along the south shore of the North Saskatchewan River. Between the university's northern border and the river is an approximately 8 hectare forest reserve.

PEREGRINE FALCON HABITAT

Pairs of peregrine falcons nest on the university's Clinical Sciences Building in a nest box.


A brief description of plans or programs in place to protect or positively affect identified species, habitats and/or environmentally sensitive areas:

MATTHEIS RANCH

In 2015, a conservation easement agreement was signed with the Western Sky Land Trust to preserve the land. The conservation agreement most closely resembles IUCN protected land type VI: Sustainable use of natural resources (managed resource protected area). One of the key objectives of the agreement is the retention and conservation of native grassland ecosystems.

According to the Western Sky Land Trust, the Mattheis Ranch conservation easement is one of the largest ever in Alberta, and was designed to provide perpetual protection of a large tract of rangeland. It also allows for the creation of a perpetual endowment for the university’s Rangeland Research Institute (RRI) research and education program. While the University of Alberta will manage this working ranch using sound scientific principles, the conservation easement and Western Sky’s involvement guarantees that its significant natural values will be conserved in perpetuity.

NORTH CAMPUS FOREST RESERVE

The forest reserve is left untouched by landscape services as a natural environment providing food, shelter and a variety of nesting and burrowing opportunities for all types of wildlife. Additionally, several classes take students into the reserve as an outdoor classroom.

LANDSCAPE PRACTICES

Over the past decade, the University of Alberta has incorporated waterfalls and streams on a number of its campuses with the intent of providing gathering places for people and wildlife, and these water features are an annual nesting place for certain pairs of ducks.

Buildings and Grounds Services (BGS) has dramatically limited its use of herbicides to less than 10 hard landscaped sites where there are no other weed control alternatives. BGS does not disturb (prune or remove) trees with active nests in them.

PEREGRINE FALCON HABITAT
http://www.ab-conservation.com/wildlife-cameras/peregrine/u-of-a-peregrine-camera/

Pairs of peregrine falcons nest on the university's Clinical Sciences Building in a nest box. Along with boxes at the Weber Centre and Bell Tower, this nesting box has safely housed breeding pairs of the formerly threatened peregrine falcon since the 1990s. Multiple conservation associations, student groups and university departments worked to develop this project and three cameras have been funded and installed so the public can watch the young birds feed and grow. The university has supported this initiative in various ways since its inception.

The Peregrine Webcam Project was initiated by Sustain SU, UAlberta Engineering and Infrastructure, the Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG), MEC, GE Security Canada and Infosat Communication. Today, the project is run by the Alberta Conservation Association, and is supported by the University of Alberta along with a variety of other organizations.


The website URL where information about the programs or initiatives is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:
---

Additional Responsible Party Information:

Landscape Services Information:
Tom McLean,
Manager, Landscape Services
Buildings and Grounds Services
Facilities and Operations

Mattheis Ranch Information:
Dr. Edward Bork, Professor
Mattheis Chair in Rangeland Ecology and Management
Director of the Rangeland Research Institute
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Sciences
Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences

Dr. Barry Irving
APO/Manager Research Stations
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Sciences
Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences

Reference was also made to the Western Sky Land Trust website, press release and backgrounder:
http://www.westernskylandtrust.ca/accomplishments/mattheis-ranch.html

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.