Language selection


ARCHIVED - Key Result #1

Information Archived on the Web

Information identified as archived on the Web is for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It has not been altered or updated after the date of archiving. Web pages that are archived on the Web are not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards. As per the Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, you can request alternate formats. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Sustainable Development Strategy
Moving Forward


Canadians make better decisions that advance sustainable development.

Turning NRCan’s vision into reality depends on improving decision making at all levels of Canadian society, so that social, economic and environmental considerations are thoroughly integrated in decision-making processes. Building capacity is about creating the conditions for advancing sustainable development by improving our ability to make better decisions. It is the foundation for sustainable development. For NRCan, the focus is on decisions made about resource development and use.

Sound decision-making requires the support of comprehensive, integrated, and available information. NRCan is constantly working to improve Canada’s knowledge bases related to the natural resource sectors. NRCan also contributes to the development of knowledge in other areas crucial to sustainable development, for example, by mapping seafloor data for better ocean management. Better science and improved knowledge bases must be linked to functional tools for decision makers in order to support sustainable development. NRCan is dedicating significant effort to providing integrated and accessible data, coupled with decision-support tools that enable planners and resource managers to make better decisions. Assessment and evaluation tools are required to ensure that the decisions made effectively deliver the expected results.

Capacity building must also include consideration of human resources. The social component of sustainable development indicates a need for the informed participation of all stakeholders in decision making about natural resources development. This may include several governments and businesses, affected communities, non-government organizations, and concerned citizens. NRCan works to improve the capacity of all Canadians to be informed participants in decision making about resource development and use, for example, by working with resource industry leadership to promote sustainable development within the private sector, by helping communities to develop the tools and skills they need to improve decision making for resource management, and by providing public information about Canada’s natural resources and sustainable development.

Better science, integrated and accessible data, assessment and evaluation tools, technology innovation, informed leadership, outreach and education-these are priority action areas for NRCan because knowledge and ability, together with commitment, create the conditions under which sustainable development can take place. NRCan also has a role to play in shaping the regulatory environment that governs resource development and use in Canada, fostering dialogue and contributing to the evolution of government policy that supports sustainable development.

Building capacity to support sustainable development in Canada includes a host of activities within all sectors of the Department, related to all of Canada’s natural resource sectors, and addressed to diverse audiences that include governments, communities, the private sector, and all Canadians. What groups all of the actions described in this section is their common purpose: creating the conditions for advancing sustainable development in Canada.


Icon: Tools and Applications

1.1 Provide knowledge and decision-support tools for resource decision-makers

Icon: Tools and ApplicationsIcon: Best Practices and Models

1.2 Undertake science and technology and develop strategies to advance resource stewardship

Icon: Tools and ApplicationsIcon: Best Practices and Models

1.3 Increase understanding of water resource supply and minimize impacts of natural sector activities on aquatic ecosystems

Icon: Best Practices and Models

1.4 Apply, support and share best practices and models

Icon: Policy and Governance

1.5 Support policy, dialogue and governance to increase the contributions of Canada’s resource sectors to sustainable development

Icon: Tools and ApplicationsIcon: Best Practices and Models

1.6 Engage Aboriginal communities in sustainable land and resource development and use

Icon: Tools and ApplicationsIcon: Best Practices and Models

1.7 Facilitate skills development and increase public outreach

Action 1.1: Provide knowledge and decision-support tools for resource decision-makers
Issue Approach Target Anticipated outcome

Stewardship of Canada’s forests requires comprehensive monitoring and reporting of forest management activities as well as the state of forest resources themselves.

There is a need to address information gaps, such as the nature and rate of changes to the resource and information on non-timber vegetation. Remote sensing tools can assist with data gathering in hard-to-access locations.

A variety of audiences require this information - from federal and provincial/territorial subject area specialists and policy analysts to national and international publics.

To address these information gaps, NRCan will provide current data on the size, composition and state of Canada’s forests.

The National Forest Information System will provide ready access to and transparent integration of information held by the custodial agencies across the country, through use of international standards and sharing of information technology.

The National Forest Inventory is a plot-based system of permanent observational units located on a national ‘grid.’ Remote sensing tools will gather data on the forest area and its characteristics, which can be used to enhance forest inventories and to extend inventories to areas that currently are not or are only poorly covered as well as detecting forest changes and land-use change.

The National Forestry Database Program complements these initiatives by providing a framework for reporting on the extent and nature of Canada’s forests and their management.

By 2004, initiate the deployment, in increments, of the National Forest Information System.

By 2005, complete initial establishment of the National Forest Inventory.

By 2006, initiate 5-year re-measurement cycle for photo/satellite plots and a 10-year re-measurement cycle for ground plots.

By 2006, develop products from remote sensing tools and methods.

Current, reliable, consistent, multifaceted information about a wide range of social, economic, and ecological values, as well as the ability to monitor changes over time.

A standardized national system to report on national and international commitments (including carbon budget modelling), track progress toward sustainable forest management at the national level, and provide public access to nationally relevant forest information.

Improved ability to effectively report on its forest practices and sector, enhancing the credibility for Canadian forest management practices and products, bolstering Canada’s position in international fora, and improving public access to information.

Woodlots, often located in close proximity to urban areas, provide a host of non-timber benefits to society (water and air quality, aesthetic, wildlife habitat). Woodlot owners provide a host of services, at a cost, through sustainable forest management on woodlots. These benefits are often not recognized by society, and do not have monetary value.

Woodlot owners, municipal and other levels of government, general public require information on these benefits.

NRCan will expand the current knowledge and awareness of the contribution of sustainable forest management on woodlots to society.

This initiative follows recommendations put forward at the series of cross-Canada workshops on woodlots held by Canada’s Model Forest Program, and is part of a coordinated series of projects of the Private Woodlot Strategic Initiative of the Canadian Model Forest Network.

By 2004, develop report describing contributions of woodlots to society.

By 2006, develop report providing a quantitative valuation of benefits.

Municipal, provincial, and federal government policies and legislation will take into account the multiple benefits that society gains from non-market forest products produced by woodlots. Woodlot owners will then be able to maintain their non-market contributions to the quality of life of Canadians.

Conservation of forest biodiversity is one of the criteria defining sustainable forest management, both in Canada and internationally.

Criteria and indicators reporting requires monitoring the trends and status of species at risk, alien invasive species and other selected species associated with forests in order that forest practices can be adapted to appropriately manage these species. However, the degree of forest dependence for these species has not been determined.

NRCan will develop a framework for reporting on forest-associated species, in partnership with other government departments and agencies and provinces/territories, to compile common databases on forest associated species at risk, alien invasive species and species of special significance. The databases will be accessible through the Canadian Biodiversity Information Facility and the National Forest Information System and available for use by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.

By 2004, complete an initial component of the database on alien invasive insects (Scotylidae) with bioclimatic modelling capacity.

By 2004, hold a workshop to bring together partners.

By 2005, develop a database on forest- associated species at risk.

By 2006, complete additional components of the database on alien invasive species.

Creation of a national framework and process for assigning forest dependence.

Improved ability to report on criteria and indicators.

New tools to improve risk assessments of alien invasive species (Scotylidae).

A wide range of stakeholders, including the federal, provincial and territorial governments, industry and communities, rely on statistical information describing all aspects of mineral activity in Canada. Availability of timely and accurate information will promote sound decision-making on the sustainable development of Canada’s mineral resources.

NRCan will collaborate with stakeholders to efficiently collect and share knowledge and statistics on all dimensions of mineral activity in Canada and to disseminate this information to Canadians.

NRCan will develop Internet-based applications to ensure efficient collection and dissemination of statistics on economic (production, trade), social (regional employment) and environmental (recycling) aspects of Canada’s minerals and metals activity.

By 2004, develop a series of customized Web sites allowing direct access to statistical information, in collaboration with provinces and territories.

By 2004, verify that historical trade and mine production statistics are of the highest quality and accuracy.

By 2006, verify mineral exploration expenditures and use data.

Accurate and timely statistical products to improve decision making by all levels of government, by industry and by Canadians in relation to Canada’s mineral and metal resources.

An ecosystem approach is holistic and addresses economic, social and environmental considerations. The Convention on Biological Diversity outlined 12 principles for the ecosystem approach to integrate its three objectives of conservation, sustainable use and benefit sharing. However, no clear definition of ecosystem-based forest management exists, and its implementation remains the object of national and international debate. While implementation of both the Convention on Biological Diversity and the National Forest Strategy are based on an ecosystem approach, little guidance exists.

NRCan will examine the Canadian experience with implementation of the ecosystem approach and provide a synthesis of current status, by consulting with industry on the current status and capacity to fully adopt an ecosystem approach to forest management. NRCan will also assess scientific and technical tools currently available that would be required to implement ecosystem management of forest lands.

Partners involved will include the forest industry, non-government organizations, provinces/territories, academia and other federal government departments and agencies (particularly Parks Canada Agency, Environment Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada).

By 2004, complete an evaluation of the status of ecosystem-based forest management in Canada.

By 2005, complete a report on the ecosystem approach and its relationship to sustainable forest management.

By 2006, hold a workshop to review the evaluation and report, and to identify opportunities for partnerships to implement an ecosystem approach to sustainable forest management.

Improved understanding of the ecosystem approach as it pertains to sustainable forest management.

An overview of present status of and capacity for implementation of ecosystem approaches in Canada.

Guidance for implementation of ecosystem-based approaches to sustainable forest management.

There is a need among all levels of government, the forest sector, non-government organizations, Aboriginal organizations, the global forest market and Canada’s public for information, knowledge and capacity to use the nationally and internationally accepted tools and methodologies to measure indicators of sustainable forest management.

To achieve global recognition that Canada indeed manages its forests in a sustainable manner, Canada must measure the state of sustainability of its forest management, using impartial, widely-accepted, science-based tools.

NRCan will be proactive in working with other interested working groups, councils and committees to develop common protocols to obtain, manage and report on data for indicators of sustainable forest management.

This initiative contributes to sustainable development by ensuring that there is consistency in the methodologies and the data types that are collected and used to illustrate the social, economic and environmental dimensions important in the measurement of progress towards sustainable forest management.

Other partners directly involved include all levels of government, the forest industry, non-government organizations, Aboriginal organizations and the global forest market. Canada’s public is involved indirectly.

By 2004, coordinate discussions among partners with a view to refining the tools and methodologies to measure indicators of sustainable forest management.

By 2004, conduct discussions with international partners aimed at further refining and harmonizing Montreal Process indicators and Canadian Council of Forest Ministers indicators of sustainable forest management.

An inclusive, collaborative, coordinated, efficient and effective approach in developing the tools and methods necessary to measure indicators of sustainable forest management among interested parties in Canada.

A common understanding of the challenges of developing the tools and methods.

Increased efficiency in resource allocation to meet the objectives and approaches taken by various organizations to create the tools and methodologies.

The Government of Canada is committed to better connecting to its citizens. As its contribution to this objective, NRCan has a responsibility to improve and increase the electronic dissemination of its natural resources data, information and knowledge to help Canadians make better decisions about sustainable development. Decisions for areas such as natural resource development, strong and safe communities, Aboriginal issues, and development of the North.

NRCan will make its geospatial information available online to clients. This includes key geospatial information products, such as digital topographic and freely available framework data, and online national maps. Clients comprise three groups: citizens; experts/scientists and private sector; and all levels of government partners.

By 2004, provide free access to accurate, consistent, current online national maps.

By 2005, provide tools to allow simple inclusion of national maps in any Government of Canada Web site.

By 2006, deliver online national maps to citizens through a number of Government of Canada Web sites.

Increased availability of online national maps.

Improved online access to NRCan geospatial information products through consistent procedures and licensing.

Increased confidence among users resulting in better decision-making, informed by geospatial information products.

Canada is the second largest country in the world. There is a need to better understand the content of the landmass and infrastructure. This in turn creates a need and an opportunity for NRCan to continue to upgrade its key tools such as geospatial data, maps and satellite imagery.

NRCan is recognized as a leading contributor to the national framework of digital geospatial data. NRCan will provide quality basic geospatial information and knowledge to decision makers involved in resource stewardship and management through both traditional and new sources of data and information, as well as expanding the use of delivery methods such as the Internet.

NRCan will produce and maintain information in a common technological environment in partnership with other data producers.

By 2006, complete Canadian coverage of basic geospatial information layers (geographical names, atlas thematic frameworks, transportation networks and satellite ortho-imagery) will be produced and upgraded periodically.

By 2006, Canadian coverage for elevation data and hydrographic network layers will be 60% complete.

More efficient and effective decision-making by communities, industry and policy organizations involved in sustainable development of natural resources.

There is a need to attract investment, to develop the skills and capacities of Canadians, and to create work opportunities in rural, remote, northern and Aboriginal communities.

To improve the way Canadians make decisions about their land and resources development to provide benefits for the present without compromising the well-being of future generations, NRCan will continue to support sustainable development and investment in Canada’s North through the use of geospatial information.

NRCan will support development and investment in the North that is consistent with sustainable development by providing reliable, and consistent geospatial information, well-defined property rights, and by providing assistance to develop capacity in northern governments and communities.

NRCan and its partners will provide consistent, reliable and distinct user-defined northern geomatics information.

By 2006, provide base geospatial information and earth observation imagery.

By 2006, operate a legal survey system in support of the extent of property rights.

By 2006, provide access to a national geodetic reference frame.

By 2006, develop techniques and methodologies to portray and integrate geospatial information.

By 2007, complete conversion of map-based geospatial products to digital environment in order to permit digital image and cartographic mapping, seamless integrated databases, real-time mapping and print-on-demand.

Better quality and efficiency in land-based decision-making regarding natural resources and environmental management by northern communities, private enterprise and governments.

Increased private investment in natural resource development, consistent with the principles of sustainable development.

Informed land-based economic development in Canada’s North.

Federal, provincial and territorial governments, industry stakeholders and environmental groups need an internally consistent estimate of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions up to the end of the Kyoto second commitment period.

NRCan will prepare a consensus forecast of energy supply, demand and prices with the associated greenhouse gasemissions. The document will be a projection of Canada’s energy supply and demand to 2020. It will also provide the greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy production, conversion and consumption.

The underlying assumptions (e.g. economic growth, economic structure, demographics and world oil price) are important building blocks. Therefore, it is important that consultations be held within the federal government and with the provincial and territorial governments to develop a consensus view on these assumptions.

By 2004, complete a forecast providing a benchmark of emissions and energy use for governments and stakeholders.

A reference document from which governments and stakeholders can measure the impacts of sustainable development policy and other energy policies.


Action 1.2: Undertake science and technology and develop strategies to advance resource stewardship
Issue Approach Target Anticipated outcome

Extensive client consultations demonstrate an urgent need for geoscience knowledge to ensure that natural resource development does not harm the ocean environment and that land-use decisions balance social, economic and environmental considerations.

NRCan will deliver the geoscience knowledge base for informed decision- making in Canada’s offshore lands. To this end a mapping strategy will be developed that will develop and define common methods and standards for use in other related projects.

By 2005, develop a National Sea Floor Mapping Strategy in conjunction with federal partners.

A foundation for integrated seafloor mapping which will lead to industry proposals (based on appropriate seafloor map data) to mine offshore resources.

Alien invasive species affect the environment, including through modification of ecosystem processes and displacement of native species. Social and economic aspects of these problems include the impacts on resource quality and availability, the potential to export products and the disruption of employment and infrastructure.

Entry, establishment and spread of exotic pests, as well as their impacts, is difficult to predict. The efforts required to deal effectively with these issues are costly, and coordination is essential for success.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is the federal lead organization on phyto-sanitary matters. NRCan provides vital forest science expertise.

NRCan will develop a national strategy to detect new arrivals before they can get a foothold in Canada’s forests, becoming a threat to the forest resources, potentially causing problems for Canada’s export markets.

NRCan, in partnership with CFIA, will address the biology of exotic species, risk assessment needs, and potential control measures. This project will benefit urban as well as rural forested areas.

Many agencies are involved: provincial natural resources and environmental ministries, municipal forestry and public health agencies, other federal departments (Pest Management Regulatory Agency, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Revenue Canada, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade).

By 2005, NRCan will develop a national strategy on forest alien invasive species, integrating environmental, economic and social risks, in partnership with Environment Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Enhanced supporting research for policy development in controlling invasive species.

Enhanced capacity for gathering and synthesis of information on potential exotic forest pests.

Improved assessments of potential impacts of exotic pests on forests, municipalities, trade, and biodiversity.

Enhanced mitigative and preventive measures against exotic pests.

Responsible development of mineral and energy resources will be the basis for economic development and will improve the quality of life for northern Canadians, most of whom are First Nations or Inuit. The present state of the geoscience knowledge base is not sufficiently developed to support the exploration for resources that is required to move the economy of the North ahead.

NRCan will create and effectively market new, comprehensive, regional mineral and energy geoscience products (regional databases, maps, reports) to stimulate private sector investment in exploration and development in areas of high geological potential. The Department will also contribute to the building of the knowledge, skills and capacities needed by northerners to meaningfully guide and participate in this development

By 2007, develop predictive models for hydrocarbons of prospective northern basins and all known mineral deposit types over 15% of the North.

Improved resources to assist northern Canadians in attaining economic self-sufficiency, social stability and improved quality of life by contributing to the creation of employment opportunities in their communities and to the building of their capacity to participate.

It is anticipated that Canada and the world will continue to utilize metals in our environment. For the safety of Canadian health, geoscience knowledge is essential.

International organizations such as the Arctic Council, which administers the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme depend on this geoscience.

Risk-management decisions, taken in accordance with the federal Toxic Substances Management Policy, need to encompass protocols that distinguish concentrations of metals in the environment that are primarily anthropogenic from those that are natural in origin. NRCan will provide geoscience knowledge for the assessment and management of health risks posed by metals in the environment.

By 2005, provide input on natural and geochemical backgrounds to federal provincial policies on water quality and on Canada-wide mercury standards.

By 2006, provide input to the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program report on metals in Arctic environments, including protocols on differentiating metal concentrations derived from anthropogenic and natural sources, and assessments of historical metal accumulation.

Integration of geoscience knowledge into risk management decisions, reducing adverse effects on human and environmental health from toxic metals in the environment.

Canadians are the highest users of energy per capita in the world.

Climate change, energy security and reliability and other environmental issues associated with energy production, conversion and use require science and technology for solutions to improve the performance of the energy sector in contributing to sustainable development.

NRCan will conduct research and development to develop a knowledge base, and to develop and demonstrate a range of transitional technologies in areas that include clean coal, distributed generation, efficient buildings and communities, bio-based energy systems, advanced energy efficiency in transportation and industry, clean fossil fuels production, and hydrogen-based energy systems.

By 2006, achieve an annual overall efficiency of 75% in local power generation systems through advances to increase the percentage of the residual heat that is produced along with the generation of power.

By 2006, achieve a reduction of 10% in the costs for renewable energy systems in off-grid communities, coupled with a 10% reduction in the use of conventional fuel in the communities.

By 2006, achieve more efficient conversion of fossil fuel to electricity, with ultra-low environmental impacts, as demonstrated by the development of two prototype intelligent systems.

Knowledge for decision making, regulation and risk management, energy technology solutions and opportunities.

Progress on addressing long term knowledge gaps.

Potential technology solutions to address a wide variety of sustainable development challenges.


Action 1.3: Increase understanding of water resource supply and minimize impacts of natural sector activities on aquatic ecosystems
Issue Approach Target Anticipated outcome

Close to 9 million Canadians rely on groundwater. This number is constantly growing, yet our understanding of how much groundwater is available for use in Canada, is limited.

There is a need for governments (municipal, provincial and federal) to better understand the quality and quantity of existing groundwater resources and the dynamics and vulnerability of key regional sources.

NRCan will focus on determining the extent of the most strategic regional groundwater resources. NRCan will also develop methods for assessing the vulnerability of groundwater resources to land use and climate change.

The emphasis of this initiative will be on the synthesis of existing data, as well as resource characterization of aquifers with critical dependencies for human use, agriculture and/or industry.

By 2006, map 20% of key regional aquifers.

By 2006, complete current regional projects, to standards proposed by the Canadian Framework for Collaboration on Groundwater.

By 2006, produce maps of natural quality of the groundwater of regional aquifers.

By 2006, establish national database on groundwater.

By 2006, establish and implement approaches for assessing the impact of land cover and climate change on groundwater.

Improved knowledge of key regional groundwater resources in Canada.

Identify aquifers at risk and aid municipal government to plan related to water and waste management issues.

Canada has the third largest resource of fresh water globally. Yet the majority of Canada’s water use is found in areas away from the major population centres.

At issue is the impact of climate change on the balance of water supply and demand at regional and national scales.

NRCan will assess Canada wide land surface water budget through a combination of earth observation data, numerical simulation models and observed and modelled climate data.

Earth observation will also be applied to provide Canada wide maps of snow cover on a daily basis by processing archival and current satellite imagery.

By 2006, complete the Canada Water Accounts of annual sub-sub-basin water budgets under current and projected conditions.

By 2006, a record of current and historical snow cover trends over Canada from 1985 onwards.

Canadians have information that helps them to better plan adaptation responses.

Governments make use of snow cover trends to assess fire danger levels and impacts of snow cover changes on water availability for in-stream and consumptive use.

According to climate change scenarios, the Prairie region will become even drier than now.

The ability of biophysical systems to adapt to change, the human capacity of adaptation, the need for additional water resources as an option for adaptation are under question - as well as the policy and program options to address these issues.

NRCan will use an integrated assessment and modelling approach to address these issues, in collaboration with other government departments and the University of Saskatchewan, using NRCan’s capacity in glacier monitoring, biophysical systems monitoring and modelling, and spatially-explicit modelling and simulation, and using an integrated assessment and modelling approach.

By 2006, produce an assessment of costs of climate change and water resource impacts to Prairie agriculture and economy;

By 2006, develop an integrated assessment framework that can be used to test scenarios of the costs under different climate change and socio-economic assumptions.

Prairie provinces have information to assist them with adaptation decision-making.

The production of oil and gas can be a highly consumptive use of fresh potable water. Conventional oil water flooding and water withdrawal from the Athabasca river for oil sands development are two examples.

Recent oil sands announcements have led some to question the ability of the Athabasca River to meet the projected increasing demand for water. Prolonged and more periodic drought conditions can further exacerbate the challenges which lead to a very difficult allocation of potable surface and near-surface water rights between the conventional oil water flooding industry, other industrial groups, agriculture and community/residential users.

NRCan has developed a number of science and technology initiatives dealing with water use in oil and gas production.

At its research lab in Devon, Alberta, NRCan is active in surface mined oil sands extraction and tailings research focussed on increasing recycled water use to reduce fresh water demand. NRCan is also actively encouraging other government departments as well as provincial, academic and private-sector interests to pursue less water-intensive oil and gas technology developments.

By 2004, establish the Oil Sands Tailings Research facility, with a focus on tailings and water management.

By 2004, establish a multi-year research program on 21st century conventional oil water flooding technology development.

Enhanced stewardship, and reduced intensity of fresh potable water use in oil and gas production, particularly oil sands development and conventional oil production by water flooding.

There is a need to better understand the linkages between forests, forestry practices, and freshwater stewardship, in a Canadian context.

NRCan will finalize a synthesis report on the role of forests and impact of forest management on Canada’s water by assembling and reviewing scientific information and knowledge. This product will be developed in partnership with the University of Alberta. The publication will target members of the Canadian forest community.

By 2004, publish a synthesis report on the role of forests and impacts of forest management on Canada’s water.

A better understanding of the linkages between water and forest ecosystems, and related federal government science activities.

Better informed policy and operational decisions, leading to improved sustainable development practices over time.

The Canadian mining industry faces the ongoing challenge of complying with the regulatory requirements for effluents under the Fisheries Act in a cost-effective manner.

 Mine effluents are the largest environmental liability facing the Canadian industry. Low-impact chemical technologies and innovative biotechnologies have the potential to offer cost-effective and efficient tools for effluent treatment.

NRCan works with industry on the development of treatment strategies for mine, mill and metallurgical effluents. NRCan is developing chemical and biological treatment technologies for mine effluents by researching passive treatment systems; metal absorption using biosorbent from seaweed; and biotechnology for oxidizsation of thiosalts.

Research partners include universities, consultants and the mining industry.

By 2004, test technologies that employ bacteria to naturally treat contaminants in mine effluents.

By 2005, provide scientific report and conference presentation outlining biological and chemical processes occurring within passive treatment systems in order that they could be more widely utilized at mine sites in Canada.

By 2006, develop scientific report and conference presentation on the use of alginate and paper mill sludge as metal adsorbents in mine effluent treatment

Treatment systems that can be applied at mine sites and engineered to respond to the specific conditions at the site.

Leadership in the design and development of sustainable treatment systems for mining operations.

Mining and related processing of ores produces wastes that are typically deposited in the natural environment.

Understanding how metals behave in the environment is key to developing appropriate policies and strategies to manage them.

Improved understanding of the potential toxicity of mine wastes in the receiving environment is essential for a valid characterization of mine effluents.

NRCan is conducting research to characterize mine effluents by evaluating the persistence of bioavailable forms of metals; characterizing hazards of metals and alloys; developing prediction models for chronic metal toxicity; and developing microcosm/macrocosm facilities.

Research partners for this initiative include universities, consultants and the mining industry.

By 2004, complete study on geochemical behaviour of copper, zinc and cadmium in receiving waters.

By 2005, complete study on hazard identification of stainless steel.

By 2005, complete study of the effect of copper on the invertebrate indicator Ceriodaphnia.

By 2006, conduct ecosystem column set-up.

Changes to the regulatory approach for environmental protection that are based on sound science

Development of prediction models that offer simple but accurate assessment of effluent toxicity and their acceptance by the regulatory community.

There are opportunities in Canada to develop more small- and medium-sized stations to generate hydroelectricity, as renewable energy source, often with little or no storage; but there are environmental concerns related to aquatic ecosystems.

NRCan develops methods and technologies to mitigate impacts of hydroelectric development on aquatic ecosystems to help industry stakeholders meet regulatory requirements.

NRCan is involved in streamflow modelling and development of a management framework based on biological criteria, instream flow assessments, habitat requirements of fish species and studies on the effects of hydro-peaking on aquatic resources.

NRCan will be also conducting a gap analysis on innovative impact-reduction technologies. One identified priority is the need for low-cost, reliable and efficient fish-friendly equipment for small and medium hydro sites.

By 2005, collect and report on innovative impact-reduction technologies and approaches at selected hydro facilities in Canada. Conduct a gap analysis to identify further R&D needs related to habitat management, fish bypass and water management operations.

By 2006, develop three new modelling tools for stream flow assessments for use by utilities, federal and provincial regulatory agencies.

By 2006, develop concept for specially designed fish-friendly turbines and advanced speed generators, conduct computational fluid dynamics analysis, develop model and conduct testing and field trials.

Streamflow management tools applicable to individual hydro sites to ensure compliance with the Fisheries Act and provide adequate protection of aquatic ecosystems.

Canadian-designed leading-edge fish-friendly hydro equipment for small- and medium-sized hydropower.

The small hydro industry requires data and tools to assess potential changes in streamflow regimes resulting from climate change. As most small hydro sites have little or no storage, they are especially vulnerable to climate change which may affect energy outputs and/or increase risks of extreme events such as flooding.

NRCan develops and adapts tools and methods for resource assessment and extremes analysis of small hydro sites. New research to address the impacts of climate change on small hydro is in the planning stages.

Climate data will be obtained from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Environment Canada (EC) and a partnership may be forged with EC.

By 2006, complete hydrological model calibration and validation for small hydro resource assessment across Canada.

By 2007, complete extremes model calibration and validation across Canada.

By 2008, complete comparison of present-day and future climate scenarios in small-scale watersheds representing various hydrological regimes in Canada.

Information on hydrologically vulnerable areas in Canada, specifically related to small watersheds where small hydro development is prominent.

Climate change data and calibrated parameters that can be used in adapted resource assessment and extremes models for site-specific analysis of climate change impacts.


Action 1.4: Apply, support and share best practices and models
Issue Approach Target Anticipated outcome

Government, industry and the public do not yet make full use of available information when making decisions on sustainable development related issues. This is at least in part due to the fact that the information is not available in sufficiently ‘user friendly’ form and because there are not yet sufficient geospatial modelling methods readily available to reliably fill gaps in baseline knowledge.

NRCan will develop tools to integrate information such as land cover, land-use change and drought monitoring for use in decision making on sustainable development issues. The system will enable clients to make use of information and knowledge in a broad multidisciplinary context.

This program builds on information foundations such as the Atlas of Canada and the Canadian Geoscience Knowledge Network, and will include a wide range of data sources, including earth observation imagery, maps and ground data.

By 2006, develop advanced prototype

decision-support systems and data models which will be operational in 2008.

Geospatial (geomatics and geoscience) information and models are used by federal and provincial governments in decision making, resulting in better decisions for truly sustainable development.

Decisions about resource development and use are supported by a comprehensive knowledge base that integrates social, economic and environmental considerations.

Increased sales of related products and services by Canadian industry.

Environmental and social issues remain outside the mainstream of the financial analysis and valuation that provide the foundations for investment decisions and corporate strategy.

More communication and research will help to integrate the impact of sustainable development practices on share price and increase appreciation of SD as a value driver.

NRCan will demonstrate a methodology to the financial sector that includes environmental and social issues in the financial analysis of publicly traded companies.

The initiative is intended to encourage financial analysts to demand sustainable development information from companies, resulting in further commitment to the integration of social, environmental and economic considerations by publicly traded companies.

NRCan will be partnering with the finance sector, academics, businesses and other government departments.

By 2004, complete a financial analysis of companies within the natural resource sectors that accounts for the economic impacts of their social and environmental practices.

By 2004, disseminate and share results with the financial sector and other interested parties.

Increased demand for sustainable development information in the finance sector.

Financial analysts increasingly consider economic, social and environmental information when valuing companies and accept the business case for sustainable development.

Increase adoption of sustainable development practices and reporting, resulting from information demand of the finance sector.

Significant information gaps exist on the most effective approaches being adopted by natural resource companies with respect to sustainable development, and reporting on sustainable development activities. In particular, small- and medium-sized enterprises lack information and tools to advance manageable sustainable development initiatives.

NRCan will identify the consensus economic, social and environmental indicators being reported by natural resource companies, the best practices being adopted, and the associated cost-benefits of those practices.

The initiative will identify the sustainable development information being reported by corporations and the practices which have the most impact.

By 2004, identify for a number of natural resource industries the consensus sustainability indicators being reported, the best practices companies are adopting with respect to sustainable development, and the cost-benefits of those practices.

By 2004, disseminate the results as a toolkit to small- and medium-sized enterprises to assist them with integrating sustainable development into their operations.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises use the information to identify effective and achievable approaches to sustainable development.

Increase in the number of companies committed to sustainable development.

Companies employ more effective sustainable development approaches and actions.

The complexity of the Kyoto ratification debate underscores the need for more sophisticated analytic capacity to assess climate change policy options among federal and provincial economic analysts and policy makers, and representatives of stakeholder associations.

NRCan will develop integrated modelling capacity to evaluate the emissions, energy and economic implications for Canada of proposed climate change, energy and related policies. The model will incorporate information on a range of current and emerging technologies.

The integrated nature of the model will permit direct comparison of economic and emissions consequences across options. The objective is for the modelling structure to become the common platform for analysis among federal, provincial and stakeholder decision-makers.

This initiative builds on work of the National Climate Change Process, and closely links to federal technology initiatives. This will give Canada the needed analytic capacity for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol.

By 2004, construct an integrated decision model.

By 2004, employ the model to develop a new emissions outlook based on multi-stakeholder consultation.

By 2005, model fully ready to evaluate policy options.

An integrated, consistent framework for the assessment of the economic implications of energy and climate change policy alternatives.

More transparent analysis of alternatives incorporating considerations of emissions reductions and economic impact.

Deeper information base for public decision making.

Important contribution to Canada’s analytic capacity for the forthcoming second commitment period negotiations.

There is an increasing emphasis on global cycles, especially carbon, in the assessment of sustainable management practices. There are indications that international carbon trading, which could flourish as a result of the Kyoto Protocol, may present Canada, as a forested nation, with significant commercial opportunity.

NRCan will develop and implement a ‘user friendly’ carbon budget model at the scale of a forest management unit to enable forest managers to evaluate the implications of their management actions on carbon stocks and carbon stock changes, and to assess alternative management strategies. Given sufficient data, it will also allow forest managers to evaluate and report on past carbon stocks in their management areas.

By 2004, test beta-version of the model in the Lake Abitibi and Western Newfoundland model forests.

By 2004, conduct training workshop on the beta model for the two pilot sites.

By 2004, make final version of the model available for distribution.

Enhanced ability of forest managers to understand and manage the impacts of their actions on carbon stocks.


Action 1.5: Support policy, dialogue and governance to increase the contributions of Canada’s resource sectors to sustainable development
Issue Approach Target Anticipated outcome

The United States Department of Energy identifies petroleum gas hydrates as the only resource that can prevent a long-term natural gas supply gap. Natural Gas is essentially a continental commodity, with limited opportunity for transoceanic shipment of liquefied natural gas. As the North American natural gas market is moving toward a consumption rate of 30 trillion cubic feet or more per year, it is necessary to find new, large sources of reliable natural gas supply.

Achieve work towards an approved proactive level gas hydrate program. The International Mallik Research Well consortium undertook resource characterization and natural gas production experiments which have confirmed the fuel potential of Canadian gas hydrates. The global leading effort of its type, the Mallik experiments position Canada and Canadians to lead both technology and innovation related to the development of this potential resource. The engineering and economic conditions for the commercialization of this fuel potential will be assessed if an aggressive program is approved.

By 2005, develop a policy road map for the creation of a multi-agency strategy to stimulate private-sector development of gas hydrates, in collaboration with other government departments and stakeholders.

Active development of exploration programs by Canadian industry to locate and characterize petroleum gas hydrate and hydrate/free gas deposits.

National and international involvement of Canadian companies in the production of hydrate gas caps (offshore or Arctic) for commercial developments.

Public and corporate acknowledgement that Arctic gas hydrates are a major economic resource.

The Atlantic Energy Roundtable has provided a critical forum for governments, regulators, suppliers and operators to maintain a dialogue that focuses on maximizing this sector’s contribution to the economic and social well- being of the region, while minimizing anthropogenic effects on the natural environment. This roundtable is breaking new ground, bringing multiple regulators of the sector together with the regulated community to streamline the multiple processes and requirements, with the aim of reducing the collective regulatory burden without sacrificing protection of the environment.

NRCan will work with partners to facilitate continuous improvements to the investment climate for the Atlantic offshore oil and gas sector and increase opportunities for Canadians while minimizing the effects to the natural environment. Planned improvements include innovative smart regulation for sustainable development of offshore oil and gas, and enhanced competitiveness without reduced protection.

By 2004, deliver a timetable and commitment for implementing concurrent regulatory approval processes, and deliver the Supplier Development Initiative workplan for local opportunity generation and continuous improvement.

By 2004, report to ministers on progress and seek commitment on further recommendations to grow the offshore industry in a sustainable way.

Increased investment through improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory regime.

Policy tools that maximize the benefits of economic growth for the well-being Canadians.

Better decision-making as a result of a process that facilitates dialogue, and provides more comprehensive and inclusive information.

Demonstration of a sector-wide approach to regulatory reform involving multiple regulators and requirements impacting the same segment of the natural resource sectors.

Thousands of orphaned and abandoned mine sites have been identified across Canada, many of which are hazardous and without long-term closure plans.

Local communities, the mining industry, environmental and conservation organizations, Aboriginal representatives and governments are working collaboratively through the multi-stakeholder National Orphaned and Abandoned Mines Initiative (NOAMI). The purpose of the initiative is to study and devise strategies, policy instruments and information transfer mechanisms related to the remediation of problematic abandoned and orphaned mines in Canada.

NRCan has struck a multi-stakeholder advisory committee on orphaned/abandoned mines. The workplan of this committee has been approved by Canadian Mines Ministers and is to advise on: regulatory and institutional barriers to collaboration; guiding principles, best practices for community involvement; data management and priorization; and funding approaches and preferred options.

Taking action on orphaned and abandoned mines addresses environmental quality, public health and safety and improves the image of the mining sector.

By 2004, develop policy framework for reclamation standards.

By 2004, develop recommendations for intergovernmental cost-sharing arrangements for high-priority sites.

By 2005, develop guidelines for facilitation and coordination of voluntary reclamation activities.

By 2005, develop guidelines for site assessment and priorization.

Concrete, inter-jurisdictional measures (practices, research methods, technologies and administrative/regulatory policies) to address the legacy of orphaned and abandoned mine sites in Canada.

Demonstration that the impact of past mining practices can be addressed in a manner that contributes to sustainable development.

Past practices relating to the transportation, refining, and use of radioactive materials have resulted in contamination problems that must be remediated. NRCan has accepted responsibility for remediating certain radioactively contaminated sites where the contamination has resulted from very early industrial practices and the current owner cannot reasonably be held responsible. These situations are complex and require innovative and community-sensitive approaches

NRCan provides policy direction and program funding for historic waste cleanups to the Low-Level Radioactive Waste Management Office, Canada’s agent for resolving historic waste issues.

Policy direction is guided by the Government of Canada Policy Framework for Radioactive Waste, which establishes that radioactive waste management is to be carried out in a safe, environmentally sound, comprehensive, cost-effective and integrated manner.

Historic waste cleanups provide opportunities for social and economic benefits as a result of improved environmental conditions.

By 2005, complete an inventory of all historic low-level radioactive wastes in Canada.

By 2007, complete the environmental assessment and licensing phase of the Port Hope Area Initiative, which will provide for the long-term management of 95% of all of Canada’s historic wastes.

Advancement of safe, environmentally sound, cost effective and integrated management of Canada’s historic low-level radioactive wastes.

Benefits to Canadians - environmental, social and economic - from the cleanup of contaminated sites and appropriate management of the wastes.

Increased public engagement in sustainable land-use decisions.

Environmental assessment is known internationally as a primary tool for achieving sustainable development. In Canada, the integration of environmental factors into planning and decision making for physical initiatives is legislated under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. A renewed Act was promulgated in the fall of 2003 that encourages the continuous improvement of the EA processes at the federal level and to encourage actions that promote sustainable development.

NRCan recognizes that ensuring compliance with the new requirements in the revised federal Environmental Assessment (EA) process is a task fundamental to the Department’s mandate regarding the sustainable development of Canada’s natural resources.

NRCan promotes the continual improvement of the EA process, informs and educates client sectors and the Canadian public, and takes every opportunity to enhance understanding of the importance of EA to sustainable development.

NRCan will continue to assist and support client sectors in meeting requirements and to perform EA evaluations.

By 2004, develop new environmental assessment training materials and tools to comply with the revised Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2003).

By 2004, complete the training program for all NRCan staff on the revised Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (2003).

By 2004, implement NRCan’s environmental assessment Web application.

By 2005, develop a plan to foster a more comprehensive understanding of environmental assessment and how it can be used to support sustainable development objectives among industry, special interest groups and the Canadian public.

Within NRCan, increased awareness and continuous improvement of EA as a tool that influences the way projects are planned and decisions that support and advance sustainable development.

More broadly, increased awareness of EA that will assist natural resource industries to better integrate environmental considerations in their projects. Among the Canadian public, increased awareness that will lead to more opportunities for participation in the decision-making process.

Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) is a systematic, proactive and iterative process for evaluating the negative and positive environmental consequences of federal government policies, plans or programs to ensure that they are fully included and addressed at the earliest stage of decision making, on par with economic and social considerations. An SEA is required when a policy, plan or program proposal is submitted to a minister or Cabinet for approval, and when a proposal may result in important environmental effects, either positive or negative.

The creation and promotion of an open and informative consultative process between government bodies involved in the SEA process is essential to the maximization of the benefits to sustainable development resulting from the use of this tool.

The promotion of continual improvement in the process of SEA is also fundamental to NRCan’s mandate.

NRCan has been conducting SEAs since 1990 and is committed to enhance the use of this tool to facilitate the incorporation of environmental considerations in its policies, plans and programs.

When joining forces with another federal department to develop policies, plans and programs, NRCan pursues the opportunity to collaborate on conducting the SEA.

By 2004, develop formal SEA training materials and mechanism for all appropriate NRCan staff.

By 2005, expand the existing process to facilitate the undertaking of SEAs for all policy, plans, programs initiated by NRCan.

By 2005, investigate and report on opportunities for NRCan to enhance public consultation when developing SEAs of policies, plans and programs.

By 2004, submit a proposal for the development of a mechanism for interdepartmental consultation on SEA for multi-departmental initiatives.

By 2005, report on the development of, and NRCan’s participation in the multi-departmental SEA consultation mechanism.

Increased integration of environmental considerations with social and economic ones in NRCan’s policies, plans and programs.

Increased interdepartmental support for fostering sustainable development in the natural resource sectors.

Legislative and policy instruments designed to further sustainable development are regularly reviewed by the federal government to advance the sustainable development goals set by the federal government. NRCan actively takes part in these processes to influence the inclusion of sustainable development principles in the revised legislation and policies.

NRCan will participate in the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) review process to influence the inclusion of sustainable development principles within the Act.

The Federal Toxic Substances Management Policy (TSMP) and other initiatives designed to control releases of toxic substances are essential to sustainable development. NRCan will improve its performance in relation to these policies.

By 2005, initiate an intradepartmental forum to deal with the upcoming review of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

By 2004, revise and update the strategy, Toxic Substances Management Policy Implementation at NRCan.

Environmental protection legislation and policies incorporating the principles of sustainable development.

Promotion of actions needed to achieve sustainable development.


Action 1.6: Engage Aboriginal communities in sustainable land and resource development and use
Issue Approach Target Anticipated outcome

To improve Aboriginal knowledge and make progress on issues in sustainable forest management, there needs to be a certain level of trust and respect among all those involved. In order to accomplish this, systematic tools related to integrating Aboriginal knowledge into forest management need to be developed for use by Aboriginal communities and the forest sector.

Through its outreach programs, NRCan will provide leadership in cross-cultural and collaborative learning opportunities regarding sustainable forest management in an Aboriginal context.

In partnership with the Model Forest Network, NRCan will develop tools and methodologies for addressing and integrating Aboriginal issues and knowledge into sustainable forest management.

This initiative will build on work of Canada’s Model Forests Program and the First Nations Forestry Program.

By 2004, hold a workshop on Aboriginal related indicators of sustainable forest management.

By 2004, complete a synthesis report on indicators of sustainable forest management developed by or for Aboriginal communities in Canada.

By 2004, complete a report on standards of Aboriginal cultural research in Canada.

Increased involvement of Aboriginal people in sustainable forest management throughout Canada.

Improved cross-cultural working relationships.

Increased understanding of Aboriginal issues and priorities for sustainable forest management.

Global drivers such as sustainable development, economic reform and technology, influence the way societies interact with land over time. This changing humankind-to-land relationship results in changing land markets, hence changing land administration infrastructures, which result in new demands on spatial data infrastructures.

Current land administration systems on Aboriginal lands are inadequate for addressing sustainable development objectives, which are intimately linked to good governance, the environment, and economic development.

The implementation of cadastral systems, which is a form of land administration, is a key component to support and facilitate the way society interacts with land.

To support Aboriginal land and resource management, NRCan will provide northern communities with necessary property rights information.

This complex issue will be addressed through the provision of an integrated suite of projects that deal specifically with the boundary or cadastral component of the property rights infrastructure on Aboriginal Lands.

Partners include Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Aboriginal communities and institutions such as the National Aboriginal Land Managers Association, Lands Advisory Board and Indian Oil and Gas Canada and the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors.

By 2005, develop and produce specialized geomatics products in support of effective Aboriginal land administration.

Increased efficiency, effectiveness and self-sufficiency of Aboriginal land and reserve management, investment in land management and economic development.

Increased environmental benefits and enhanced economic and social capacity in Aboriginal communities.

Sustainable community development and stimulation of local economies through capacity building.

Northern and remote communities are often very dependent on fossil fuels for all their major energy usages (transportation, electricity, and space and water heating) and, as a result, contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, approximately 130 communities rely on diesel generation for their electricity. Opportunities exist for emissions reduction through increased energy efficiency and the use of alternative energy sources, but expertise in these areas is limited in these communities.

NRCan will work to support efforts by Aboriginal and northern communities to improve their energy efficiency and use alternative energy sources.

Key areas of action are: community energy planning and management; renewable energy and improved technology applications (e.g., small hydro, wind, solar, variable generators); enhanced energy efficiency of existing and new Aboriginal housing and facilities; and capacity building, training and tools.

By 2006, work with three regional Aboriginal housing committees to integrate energy efficiency into their decision-making processes.

By 2006, work with five Aboriginal or northern organizations to implement a renewable energy project.

Increased understanding and involvement of Aboriginal and northern communities in climate change mitigation activities.

Increased capacity to plan for and implement energy efficiency, renewable and alternate energy technologies, and reduce the reliance on diesel generation.

Reduction in greenhouse gas emissions generated by Aboriginal and northern communities.

The use of natural resources in energy production can result in the production of emissions and wastes. Nuclear-generated electricity results in radioactive waste that must be managed for the longterm. The development of a long-term management solution for nuclear fuel waste involves a consultative process among Canadians.

In 1998, NRCan indicated that it would initiate an Aboriginal designed and implemented participation process following a ten-year Environmental Assessment Process concerning the long-term management of nuclear waste. In 2002, the Nuclear Fuel Waste Act was passed further instilling the important role Aboriginal peoples would play in providing their views and opinions in advance of a decision on nuclear fuel waste management.

NRCan will facilitate an Aboriginal designed and implemented Aboriginal participation process that provides capacity to learn, develops internal resources and allows the Aboriginal groups to conduct a dialogue amongst themselves on this important policy issue.

The design of the process and the emphasis placed on the Aboriginal groups themselves is a socially responsible proactive approach to a critical environmental issue. It provides early opportunity for the Aboriginal peoples to provide their opinions in advance of a decision. It allows for the development of a long-term professional relationship between the federal government and groups critical to sustainable development initiatives.

This process builds upon the work of the environmental assessment panel, the 1998 Policy Statement, and five years of dialogue with Aboriginal groups.

By 2006, complete a consolidated consultation report containing both quantitative results and qualitative assessments of views and opinions of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples concerning nuclear fuel waste management.

Integration of the views and opinions of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples in a critical social, political and environmental decision making process through a culturally reflective consultation process.

Create a long-term body of knowledge concerning Aboriginal views and opinions.

Develop capacity for long-term integration of Aboriginal people in resource decision making.

In Canada, particularly in the North, minerals and metals activities take place in close proximity to Aboriginal communities. As these communities are influenced by minerals and metals activities, it is important that Aboriginal peoples are involved in decisions about mineral resources that affect them.

Enhancing the economic and social capacity of Aboriginal communities would increase participation in minerals and metals activities and help to foster mutually beneficial relationships between Aboriginal communities and the mining industry.

The governments, industry and Aboriginal organizations have agreed to pursue the implementation of proposals to increase the capacity of Aboriginal communities and individuals to participate in minerals and metals activities.

NRCan will work with partners to develop a national information toolkit, as well as a communications strategy and products targeted at far north Ontario. The information products will address economic, environmental and social impacts and benefits of mining, such as employment and business opportunities.

By 2004, develop national information toolkit targeted for tabling at Mines Ministers Conference.

By 2004, produce a regional communications strategy and develop a video on the mining cycle for Aboriginal communities.

By 2004, develop and upgrade the Web site mapping Aboriginal community information with up-to-date information on mine sites and the mineral industry information in Canada.

By 2006, facilitate an international workshop on Aboriginal best practices in the sustainable development of mining.

Increased contribution of mining activities to sustainable development.

Greater awareness and knowledge among Aboriginal communities of mining and its opportunities, and the potential environmental, economic and social impacts.

More awareness and activities planning for mine closure and land reclamation.

A more attractive investment climate for minerals and metals in Canada.


Action 1.7: Facilitate skills development and increase public outreach
Issue Approach Target Anticipated outcome

A behavioral shift by policy- and decision-making organizations to include sustainable development practices in management of Canada’s natural resources is needed to ensure opportunities and benefits for future generations.

To achieve this shift, communities need a better understanding of what sustainable development means.

Communications, outreach and awareness activities for all interested stakeholders to promote usage of quality geospatial information to support sustainable development and management of Canada’s natural resources.

NRCan will develop a CD-ROM, Web site, educational workshops, technical papers and articles, and distribute these materials to a variety of audiences.

By 2006, develop a complete and integrated package of communication, outreach tools and activities to increase use of geospatial information to support sustainable development and management of natural resources.

Improved awareness, usage and access to basic geospatial information in support of sustainable resource development and management.

Responsible development of mineral and energy resources will be the basis for future economic development and will improve the quality of life of northern Canadians, most of whom are First Nations or Inuit.

NRCan will assist northern Canadians in attaining economic self-sufficiency, social stability and improved quality of life by increasing efforts to educate northern communities about the basics of geoscience and the opportunities that it presents.

Construction of a comprehensive, regional mineral and energy geoscience knowledge framework that will catalyze responsible economic development through new private- sector investment in exploration. It will contribute to the development of the knowledge, skills and capacities needed by northerners to create employment opportunities in the northern communities.

NRCan will co-deliver these initiatives with other government departments, the private sector, and universities.

By 2007, visit 10% of northern communities to provide introductory geoscience resource educational programs.

Greater awareness in northern communities of how to use geoscience information in developing employment in geoscience and the natural resource sectors.

Increased number of northern students enrolled in geoscience education institutions.

SD Success Story

Satellites that fight forest fires: Fire M3

As myriad forces have compelled Canada’s forest industries to find more environmentally friendly and economically viable ways of doing business, the sector has availed itself of recent advances in biotechnology, information science and chemical engineering, and has invested in the development of new machines and new ways of using knowledge.

Remote sensing—scanning the Earth’s surface by satellites or high-flying aircraft to gather detailed information about the planet—is an important tool for the forestry sector. Using remote-sensing technologies to aid activities such as surveying and doing inventories is reducing costs and increasing productivity. Canadians have developed a cost-effective combination of computer software and airborne remote-sensing technology that produces far more detailed and meaningful pictures of forest composition, which helps forest planners and managers to incorporate environmental and other non-timber values into their decision making.

Remote sensing has also become a critical tool in forest fire management. Each year in Canada, forest fires claim roughly as many hectares as the annual harvest, making fire management a top priority for forest health and productivity. The 2003 fire season saw almost 8,000 fires burn more than 1.5 million hectares of forest. Averaged over the past 10 years, approximately 2.7 million hectares have been destroyed annually. Forest fires not only deplete timber resources, threaten nearby communities and create major disturbances within the affected ecosystem, they also contribute to the increase in atmospheric concentrations of gases (primarily carbon dioxide) that are linked to climate change. Monitoring forest fires is a critical aspect of sustainable forest management.

Fortunately, Canada’s fire management system has revolutionized our ability to quickly detect and combat fires. The fire management system developed by Canadian scientists represents the culmination of 75 years of fire science. It includes computer programs that can help fire managers evaluate the risks and spread of forest fires, and can offer managers efficient ways of fighting fires, right down to the number of water bombers needed and where to position initial-attack crews.

It is the new generation of fire detection and computer mapping, however, that has taken fire-fighting to the next level. The Fire M3 project features technology that uses satellites to track and map forest fires. A joint venture involving two Natural Resources Canada operations—the Canadian Forest Service and the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (CCRS)—Fire M3 was initiated to develop a fully automated national system to monitor, map and model (“M3”) forest fires daily. It integrates the CFS’s fire management systems with the CCRS’s satellite monitoring and mapping technologies.

In the 1980s, the CFS Forest Fire Danger Rating System gained international recognition when it was adapted for use in New Zealand and Alaska. More recently, the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System (CWFIS), based on Fire M3 technology, has been adapted for use in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, South East Asia, Florida and Mexico, with other provinces and countries giving it close consideration. CWFIS creates daily fire weather and fire behaviour maps year-round and hot spot maps throughout the forest fire season, generally between May and September.

This project, now in its operational phase, is attracting international attention as the best fire-monitoring system in the world. The new technology is fully automated and provides more uniform, objective information than the older technology, which relies on traditional mapping techniques, such as aircraft surveillance, aerial sketch mapping and global positioning systems (GPS) mapping. Another bonus of the new system is the big financial savings. A third advantage of the new technology is that it gathers fire information daily and converts it into meaningful data, often within 12 hours. As a result, fire agencies can receive timely, detailed information. The information gathered by Fire M3 is one of the data streams fed into NRCan-developed decision-support software—the spatial Fire Management System (sFMS)—designed to assist fire and land managers in their day-to-day management operations.

In 2003, the Fire M3 system was integrated into the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System (CWFIS), a Web-based fire information system that incorporates the information (maps, data, reports) provided by sFMS, Fire M3 and other operational systems within a single information source. People using the Internet can zero in daily on fire activity maps that contain the latest information, which is particularly important for communities in remote areas. By seeing the overall fire hazards in their area, local authorities and residents will have a better understanding of which fires pose real threats.

Canada’s innovations and technology developments have been adopted by the forest sector worldwide. Our research results and innovative technologies have not only enabled Canada’s forest sector to adjust to evolving public forest values and respond to emerging challenges, but they have also become a keystone of our competitive advantage in the international forest products market.

Building vibrant communities: The Sustainable Communities Initiative

The Sustainable Communities Initiative (SCI) has proven to be a resounding success for NRCan’s efforts to help build community capacity in support of sustainable development. SCI was established to build and strengthen the capacity of Canada’s communities to use government information and mapping services for their social and economic development. It is a component of GeoConnections, a national partnership initiative making geographical data available to Canadians through the Internet.

The focus of SCI has been to build capacity in small rural, remote, Aboriginal and northern communities that want to improve their control over their future—specifically, by providing them with modern mapping technologies to make informed decisions for sustainable development. SCI has provided this enabling capacity by helping communities learn, implement and use Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to make decisions about their economic, environmental and social development. SCI provides communities with geospatial information, often presented in computer-generated maps. Geospatial information can describe forests, lakes, rivers, fields, geology, highways, territorial boundaries—anything that can be defined geographically. By using this information to assess opportunities, evaluate options, and gauge trade-offs, communities can make better and faster land-use decisions.

The Sustainable Communities Initiative helped some of these communities beyond acquiring basic GIS functionality, by advancing professional development within the communities. SCI hosted workshops involving community members in the field of remote sensing and advanced GIS. For example the “Introduction to Remote Sensing course” was presented to representatives from five communities.

Experience gained through pilot projects was used to build the initiative into an operational program that was delivered to about 25 communities per year for the first 4 years. As a partnership initiative, SCI involved the participation of NRCan and seven other federal departments and agencies, as well as provincial/territorial and community governments, the private sector, and voluntary organizations. The program objective of supporting up to 100 Canadian rural, remote, Aboriginal and northern communities has been met and exceeded. SCI will continue to share its experience with small communities interested in the use of geomatics for sustainable development.

Through its policies and programs, NRCan is committed to contributing to the achievement of priorities identified by communities for improved quality of life, and creating opportunities and removing barriers to sustainable development. NRCan plays a key role in broader federal efforts to build sustainable communities, and continues, in partnership with communities, to design programs and initiatives that provide communities with the skills, knowledge and tools necessary for integrated decision-making.

Kivalliq: Geographical information for a better future

The future of Kivalliq, Nunavut rests on its ability to make the best decisions regarding its land and sea resources. With over 83,000 square kilometres of land to manage, and with several levels of authority that must have input into Nunavut’s Land Use Plan, the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA) developed a geographic information system (GIS) to track and approve all land-use applications.

During the 1980s, prior to the incorporation of Nunavut as a territory, several areas had been contaminated by commercial uses such as mining, and oil and gas exploration. The KIA, in turn, had no efficient system to track land use or to effectively rectify any contamination.

The KIA worked with the Sustainable Communities Initiative to set in motion a pilot project to develop its GIS. SCI provided funding for computer hardware, software, and training. Using GIS, the KIA is now able to store all the information—traditional and scientific knowledge, information about wildlife populations, water resources, tourist activities, and oil, gas, and mineral deposits—that is required to make sound land-use decisions.

PreviousTable of contentNext
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: