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Managing Zone-of-Influence Impacts of Oil and Gas Activities on Terrestrial Wildlife and Habitats in British Columbia

Steven F. Wilson

Abstract


A “zone of influence” is the difference between an anthropogenic activity’s spatial footprint and the extent of the activity’s effects on surrounding habitat and wildlife. This article reviews studies that have measured zones of influence for site-level activities that are relevant to oil and gas activities in British Columbia in order to inform the development of policies and procedures to manage their effects on terrestrial habitats and wildlife. Creation of edges, as well as noise and activity associated with industrial sites and roads, are the major stressors that generate zones of influence. These stressors create cascading effects that can result in altered ecosystems through a variety of mechanisms. Stressors can create abiotic and floristic effects that generally extend < 100 m into surrounding intact habitat, but effects on wildlife can extend up to 5 km and sometimes farther. Mitigating stressors at their source should reduce zones of influence and the need to apply management buffers to separate industrial activities from ecological resources.


Keywords


edge effects; oil and gas development; sensory disturbance; zones of influence

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