From a protection and enhancement standpoint, a solid understanding of the characterization of ecosystems is essential to better determine their ecological value and to manage them optimally.
Groupe Hémisphères relies on extensive experience and advanced expertise when performing an inventory of terrestrial ecosystems, wildlife and wetlands. Groupe Hémisphères also specializes in ecological mapping, which illustrates, by means of georeferenced maps, the distribution of terrestrial ecosystems and their interaction within the territory.
Management solutions are also offered to facilitate the decision making process in relation to development (industrial, commercial or residential), conservation or enhancement projects. The laws and regulations, environmental assessment guidelines and certificate of authorization requirements (article 22 of the Environment Quality Act) are all taken into account when designing management solutions.
Inventories and Terrestrial Ecosystem Management
Terrestrial ecosystems are a combination of interrelated elements (terrestrial environments, wetlands, soils, wildlife and floristic habitats) whose balance and integrity can be affected by human activity. Aware of this reality, Groupe Hémisphères:
- effectue la photo-interprétation du territoire et produit des cartes écologiques;
- conducts biological and physical inventories, including floristic and species‑at‑risk inventories;
- drafts a realistic management plan for terrestrial ecosystems.
Furthermore, in order to identify all of the threatened floristic and wildlife species on a given territory, Groupe Hémisphères has developed a georeferenced research tool founded on the location, habitat and specific characteristics required for these species to survive. This tool makes it possible to spot all of the species, adapt inventories to verify their presence and assess their potential presence.
Wetlands (marshes, swamps and peat bogs) are protected under the Environment Quality Act. They play an important role in the regulation of moisture balance and are essential to the survival of a diversified wildlife and flora. Being familiar with the location, nature and ecological value of an entire territory’s wetlands facilitates decisions regarding the territory’s development.
Groupe Hémisphères has developed an evaluation methodology to assess the ecological value of wetlands based on the MDDEP’s Guide d’élaboration d’un plan de conservation des milieux humides (Guide for the preparation of a wetland preservation plan). The mapping of a given territory’s wetlands is then carried out, and the client can later examine the resulting map using geographic data processing software (MapInfo® or ArcGIS™ as well as their respective viewers).
When carrying out wetland inventories, Groupe Hémisphères:
- submetrically determines (with Geneq’s DGPS SXBlue) the boundaries of wetlands and the natural high-water line using the botanical method and the characterization of soils and surface deposits;
- applies ecological management to wetlands;
- estimates the ecological value of wetlands;
- makes conservation and management recommendations.
When carrying out development or knowledge-building projects on a given territory, it is essential to acquire detailed knowledge of the local wildlife in order to better preserve and enhance it. Groupe Hémisphères’ team of experts is able carry out a variety of wildlife inventories in diverse habitats and contexts, while observing the strictest protocols approved by the relevant federal and provincial bodies. As such, Groupe Hémisphères:
- carries out bird, herpetofauna mammal, fish, insect and benthos inventories in the field;
- applies the appropriate method according to the type of animals inventoried;
- conducts follow-up studies on the mitigation measures implemented for wildlife;
- identifies wildlife habitats of interest and locates species at risk;
- creates a management plan for wildlife and related habitats;
- proposes sustainable solutions for conflicts concerning human and wildlife usage.
Fish Habitat Characterization
Fish habitats (streams, lakes and wetlands) can be directly or indirectly upset by infrastructure development or restoration projects. To anticipate or mitigate the impacts of such projects on the physical, chemical or biological makeup of the fish habitat, Groupe Hémisphères:
- gathers secondary data on the species and habitat from relevant authorities;
- takes the necessary measures to characterize the fish habitat;
- makes an inventory of the species present;
- recommends developments that reduce the impacts on the fish habitat;
- recommends specific mitigation measures and, if applicable, compensatory measures;
Ecological Mapping and Geomatic
In most projects, mapping and geomatics are essential tools for such things as mapping entire terrestrial or aquatic systems, defining development constraints and determining the sensitive elements to preserve. Mapping and geomatics also allow the superimposition of different levels of information in order to identify and locate the environmental impacts of a project. Groupe Hémisphères:
- conducts the photointerpretation of a territory with state-of-the-art software that uses 3D, in the most common formats (MapInfo® or ArcGIS™);
- supplies experienced field teams and precise instrumentation (DGPS, total station, etc.);
- collects habitat validation data using Quebec’s Ecoforestry Information System (SIEF) standard as well as the federal government and British Columbia’s TEM;
- conducts the ecological mapping of sectors not covered by the SIEF;
- creates thematic maps to visualize and examine the data collected, then adapts it to project and client needs.