Terrain Sensitivity Mapping – the Great Sand Hills, southwest Saskatchewan
Project Description

In 2005-2006 JDMA was part of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) conducting the Regional Environmental Study (RES) of the Great Sand Hills in southwestern Saskatchewan.  The RES had been commissioned by the Saskatchewan Minister of the Environment following the recommendations of a 2004 report by the Great Sand Hills Land Use Committee, which had highlighted concerns about the ecological integrity and sustainability of the Great Sand Hills in the face of increased human activity.  JDMA was responsible for mapping the economic geology and water resources within the RES review area and for assessing the sensitivity of the physical landscape to human activities (in particular, those activities associated with oil and natural gas exploration and development).

To assess the relative level of sensitivity of the landscape in the Great Sand Hills to human disturbance, JDMA used LiDAR survey data (acquired by Saskatchewan Environment) and information from existing land cover and surficial geology studies to develop a GIS-based ‘terrain sensitivity’ model.  The terrain sensitivity model considered several factors including soil type and texture, depositional environment, slope, aspect, existing landcover (including type and extent of vegetative cover) and current land use practices (which included identifying and mapping local ATV and truck trails not captured by the existing road network datasets).  The resulting terrain sensitivity not only identified the areas potentially most sensitive to human activities but were also used in planning many of the field studies undertaken by other SAC members.

Terrain mapping and site characterization                   Environmental studies

Project Details
ClientCanadian Plains Research Centre, the University of Regina

JD Mollard and Associates

JD Mollard and Associates