Environmental and social risk assessment to support informed collaborative decision making for vegetation management of northern Rights-of-Way
Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) is an approach that utility companies can use to manage vegetation under or near transmission lines and has been successfully applied in southern jurisdictions. IVM requires practitioners to understand and manipulate plant communities to meet management objectives, such as maintaining a low growing plant communities that help prevent the regrowth of trees. Selective herbicide application is a common technique used in IVM, however, questions remain regarding the effectiveness and environmental impact of IVM and herbicide use in northern boreal ecosystems. In addition, northern Indigenous communities that use rights-of-way (ROWs) and surrounding environments for trapping, hunting and traditional food and medicinal plant harvesting have expressed concerns regarding the use of herbicides. Our project will address both the environmental and social aspects of assessing the risks associated with IVM and herbicide use on northern ROWs in order to provide relevant local data for informed collaborative decision making. We propose to take a unique approach by simultaneously developing improved community engagement strategies while working closely with both industry and community members to provide key information for effective vegetation management of northern ROWs.