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Case Study

Terrestrial ecosystem baseline studies

Wildlife observation

Providing our clients with the critical information needed to navigate legislation, regulation, and policy resulting in cost-efficient solutions benefiting both clients and the environment.

The Situation

Rio Tinto Alcan proposed to extend their marine facility at their Kitimat aluminum smelter. The facility required an Environmental Assessment under the BC Environmental Assessment Act (BC EAA).


Advisian prepared the Environmental Assessment (EA) application, which included terrestrial ecosystems. Advisian conducted baseline wildlife, vegetation, and terrain and soil surveys to support the effects assessment. Wildlife surveys included breeding birds, western screech owls, marine birds, coastal tailed frogs, bats, and large mammals. Vegetation communities where characterized and mapped following Terrestrial Ecosystem Mapping (TEM) protocols. Old forests, rare vascular and non-vascular plants, rare ecological communities, weeds, and traditional-use plants were assessed during spring and summer field surveys. Soils and terrain were classified and mapped according to the Canadian System of Soil Classification. Vegetation and terrain data were used in Habitat Suitability Index modeling (HSI) for six focal species. The data collected during baseline surveys and modeling was used to assess potential effects to terrestrial ecosystem VCs.


The project received an Environmental Assessment Certificate in December 2015, which included robust but practical mitigation for terrestrial ecosystems. Advisian continues to support RTA with construction planning and permitting for the project.