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Habitat compensation is intended to improve physical, chemical, or biological factors that are limiting habitat capability. This includes replacing damaged habitat with newly created habitat, increasing the productive capacity of existing natural habitat, or least preferably, maintenance of fish production by artificial means. These must be identified on a crossing-by-crossing basis by the proponent, in consultation with technical specialists, as well as provincial, territorial and federal authorities. Local fisheries management plans should also be used, where they exist, to help determine appropriate compensation options.
6.1.2 Habitat Compensation Options DFO (1999) provides the following hierarchy of preferences to compensate for
• create or increase the productive capacity of similar habitat (like-for-like) at or near the development site within the same ecological unit (e.g., gravel
The selection of the most appropriate option or options will depend on the existing watershed conditions, life history of the species affected, factors limiting habitat productivity and technical feasibility and long-term success of restoration and enhancement options. Proponents should consult with provincial, territorial and federal authorities, technical specialists and knowledgeable public representatives to identify appropriate compensation opportunities in or near the affected watercourse. It is important to take into consideration the regional fisheries management priorities or goals that may apply to the affected watercourse.
DFO’s preference is to provide for replacement of the affected habitat with similar habitat as close as possible to the affected area. This is based on the assumption that the supply of suitable habitat ultimately limits fish populations and that like-for-like compensation maximizes the potential for achieving "no net loss", without actually requiring the comparison of productive capacity before and after pipeline construction. In some situations it may not be possible to accept anything other than like-for-like compensation if the importance of the habitat being compensated for is too great.
Habitat at or near the development site can be restored, enhanced or created using riparian, bank and instream techniques discussed in Section 6.2. The selection of a particular technique depends largely on the existing site conditions including life
Year-round or seasonal habitat can be created by removing obstructions that prevent access to suitable spawning, rearing, or overwintering habitat. These include old, improperly installed or failed culverts, natural barriers, and debris dams. Channel modifications and gravel placement can be used to create new spawning, incubation and rearing habitat with suitable substrate and flow conditions. Rearing and feeding habitat can be created by installing bank and instream structures that create overhead and lateral cover.
Note however that experience has shown that site-specific projects are much more likely to yield only short-term results, create habitat at the expense of other areas, or fail altogether, than projects that consider the entire watershed. Measures that deal directly with fundamental problems in catchments or watersheds are most beneficial over the long-term.
For example, a portion of wetland feeding habitat supporting minnow species will be destroyed. However, according to documentation in the local fisheries management plan, this type of habitat is in reasonably abundant supply. In consideration of the fisheries plan objectives, a preferred compensation option might therefore be to enhance a nearby gravel spawning habitat, since it is known to be in limited supply for another species. In many cases, riparian enhancement will be equally or more beneficial than instream habitat enhancement. This may justify unlike compensation.
In other situations, moving down the hierarchy may present a better opportunity for maximizing the amount of habitat gained, particularly where there are known limitations (or bottlenecks). As an example, riparian restoration may be equally or more beneficial than instream habitat enhancement in degraded watersheds.
Allowances can be made for these situations, at the discretion of DFO.
The productive capacity of existing habitat at or near the development site can be increased by measures such as: corridor fencing to allow riparian vegetation recovery; instream, bank and riparian habitat enhancement using structures described in Section 6.2; and road deactivation and rehabilitation to control sediment loading. These same measures can also be used to improve habitat in a
In the event that habitat restoration or enhancement opportunities do not exist in the same catchment or watershed, proponents may be asked to identify techniques that will improve habitat in another ecological unit. The techniques summarized in Section 6.2 would also be applicable in this case.
Several cumulative effects management measures have been implemented for compensation. These include stewardship or community watershed programs that deal with non-point water quality concerns; riparian fencing programs on grazing lands; and radio-telemetry studies to help quantify productive capacity (e.g., location and extent of critical spawning or overwintering habitat). One challenge with these different approaches is the need to quantify both loss and compensation offsets.
Restoration of Orphan Sites
The clean-up or restoration of altered, disrupted, or degraded habitats for compensation purposes is considered to be a useful practice and is generally encouraged. This option is applicable to any level in the compensation hierarchy.
This may be considered for sites with no known responsible owner, where the disturbance occurred with an outdated legal or policy framework, and where legal and liability agreements can be reached. Compensation should be consistent with local fish management plans where they exist, and partner agency objectives should be considered.
Restoration as compensation is not appropriate at "non-orphaned sites," as these should be cleaned up by the responsible party/owner. Neither should it be considered when government is investing in or financing the cleanup.
Habitat banking sites should be worthy of restoration or enhancement, land ownership and access should be clear, and all required permits must be in place.
Habitat banks are useful in situations where a proponent needs to compensate for several small HADDs, and few compensation options exist at the site(s). Habitat banking may have the benefit of requiring smaller replacement ratios, since effectiveness is already known. During the time between the creation of the new
Artificial propagation, deferred compensation, and restoration of chemically contaminated sites are measures of last resort and only where they can effectively achieve "no net loss". Given the risk associated with each of these approaches, approval of a DFO senior regional manager is required.
Artificial propagation is a capital- and maintenance-intensive method to replace a natural habitat’s productive capacity and is by far DFO’s least preferred option. It is generally not accepted in cases where natural habitat is lost and will only be considered in rare cases where DFO determines that it is in the public interest.
Deferred compensation refers to compensation that is done at some point in the future. For example, there may be no immediate opportunity to compensate for a project in a pristine area. Deferred compensation requires that a detailed strategy and plan be included in the authorization. This approach may require larger replacement ratios to offset the extended loss of productive capacity during the time that compensation is deferred.
6.1.3 Determining the Amount of Compensation Required
The amount of compensation must be determined based on the residual net loss of productive capacity after relocation, redesign and mitigation have been taken into consideration. Compensation usually requires a compensation ratio that exceeds 1:1 to ensure that "no net loss" occurs, allowing for time lags and uncertainty of success. Lower ratios are acceptable where compensation works are completed and functional before habitat loss occurs. In most cases, replacement ratios increase as the proponent moves down the compensation hierarchy and certainty of "no net loss" decreases. Appropriate scientific tools are generally used to determine appropriate compensation ratios (e.g., Minns 1995, 1997; Minns et al.
1995, 1996; Portt et al. 1999).
Page 6-6 October 2005 Pipeline Associated Watercourse Crossings 3rd Edition
6.2 Mitigation and Compensation Techniques Habitat protection, restoration and enhancement of aquatic and riparian habitat may be conducted in conjunction with pipeline crossings to avoid or compensate the effect of construction activities. Riparian habitat refers to the unique vegetation community found between a waterbody and the surrounding upland.
This vegetation develops on banks, floodplains and wetlands with soils that are wet during some portion of the growing season (Meehan 1991). These riparian areas support diverse migratory bird, wildlife and plant communities and are an important component of aquatic habitat because they provide food, shade and cover and help stabilize streambanks.
Habitat restoration and enhancement is most frequently undertaken in sensitive streams with species that are rare, at risk, or of recreational, economic, subsistence, or scientific interest. A variety of protection, restoration and enhancement techniques are available and qualified specialist advice should be obtained to identify what effects could occur, what mitigation is required and to select the most appropriate method or combination. Specific procedures are described for bank and riparian habitat in Section 6.2.1 and instream habitat in Section 6.2.2. The selection of a particular technique depends largely on the existing site conditions including stream hydrology, bank stability, icing conditions, soils, surrounding vegetation and reasons for observed damage or limited productive capacity.
Ideally, proponents should consider their long-term development plans and identify opportunities for sequential or co-operative restoration and enhancement programs within a watershed. Experience has shown that site-specific projects are much more likely to yield only short-term results, or fail altogether, than projects that consider the entire watershed.
Where work is not undertaken by professionals under an established Code of Practice, proponents should consult with the local or regional fisheries biologist, regional DFO representative, other regulatory agencies, qualified technical specialists and public representatives to identify the most appropriate mitigation and compensation procedures. In all cases, proponents must ensure that necessary approvals are obtained for proposed protection, restoration and enhancement work.
Restoration or stabilization of stream banks may be required to minimize erosion or undertaken to restore or enhance nearshore fish habitat for compensation purposes. Stream bank erosion is a concern where sediment is deposited in downstream habitats such as spawning, rearing and overwintering areas. Special care should be exercised in stabilizing the outside bends of streams, since such areas are subject to greater erosion pressures. The following additional issues or
concerns are associated with water crossing construction in riparian areas:
• riparian habitat may be directly affected by siltation resulting from pipeline construction activities; and
• water quality may also be indirectly affected by changes in surface and groundwater flow patterns resulting from pipeline construction, or through trampling, grazing and erosion where animals and recreational users utilize the right-of-way.