Cost-effective solutions in the Interpretation of Soils, Vegetation, and Wetlands
Using commercially available LiDAR and remote sensing (satellite) imagery, Solstice has developed an innovative, primarily automated approach to map soils, terrain, and vegetation. Using this approach, Solstice provides pre-disturbance assessment scale preliminary mapping (~1:2,500 to 1:5,000) for the entire environmental impact assessment (EIA) study area for less than the cost to map the area using traditional EIA mapping techniques at a scale of ~1:20,000. Solstice has been successful in achieving significant savings creating soil, wetland, and vegetation maps while maintaining our reputation for high quality mapping.
This approach uses the analysis of digital map layers to interpret and delineate terrain, soils, and vegetation at the landscape scale, providing an economical alternative to a task conventionally performed manually. Work on various sites across northern Alberta indicates accuracy comparable to traditional air photography classification approaches, and without the need for intensive field confirmation, which can greatly advance the early planning phase of resource development projects and save time and money.
Environmental assessment and preliminary engineering are typically conducted as separate exercises, in part because field confirmation of soils, vegetation, terrain, and hydrology mapping creates an unacceptable delay in the design process. Solstice offers considerable efficiencies (and lower costs), since this data is useful to both the environmental assessment and the engineering design team. Ultimately, an understanding of the constraints applicable to a project early in the design process could avoid costly redesign - or worse, potential impacts discovered too late in the design process to mitigate easily or cheaply. The early availability of this data can be applied in various preliminary tasks, including:
- Designing a more efficient and more focused field survey program for soils, vegetation, wildlife, fish and aquatic habitat, and historical resources, resulting in lower field costs;
- Providing the front end engineering design (FEED) team with environmental sensitivities and constraints information to support preliminary planning; and
- Building regulatory and community confidence by creating map products that can be used to inform the public and regulators during the design process, fostering a better understanding and overall confidence in the project.