Reduce the size of surface features when prospecting for or extracting underground products
Overall effectiveness category Awaiting assessment
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
Prospecting for underground products, such as oil and gas, can require the destruction of habitat on the surface. Minimizing the footprint of these operations may reduce the disturbance to sensitive species. Note that smaller individual disturbances may require more patches of disturbance across the landscape, and therefore may not reduce the total area disturbed (Riva et al. 2018).
Riva F., Acorn J.H. & Nielsen S.E. (2018) Localized disturbances from oil sands developments increase butterfly diversity and abundance in Alberta's boreal forests. Biological Conservation, 217, 173–180.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A replicated, site comparison study in 2015 in a boreal forest in Alberta, Canada (Riva et al. 2018) found that narrow corridors used for prospecting for oil had a lower abundance and species richness of butterflies than wide corridors, but were more similar to undisturbed forest. In narrow, 3-m-wide corridors, the abundance (31 individuals/site) and species richness (8 species/site) of butterflies was lower than in 9-m-wide corridors (abundance: 95 individuals/site; richness: 15 species/site). However, narrow corridors were similar to undisturbed forest (abundance: 21 individuals/site; richness: 7 species/site). From 2000–2005, corridors (3 or 9 m wide) were cleared of trees to prospect for oil in a 25-km2 area of previously undisturbed forest. From June–August 2015, butterflies were surveyed 11 times on five 200-m transects in corridors of each width, and in undisturbed forest patches which had received no wildfire or anthropogenic disturbance within 50 m for >80 years.Study and other actions tested