SERVICESEcology

Ecology

We have developed one of the best Ecology groups servicing Ontario`s construction and land development industries. With extensive project experience in the land development and construction industries, our team members are skilled in providing cost-effective solutions to complex environmental issues for all phases of development & construction.

We work with your design/engineering team to identify environmentally sensitive habitats, comply with government environmental regulations, obtain necessary permits and approvals, and liaise with stakeholders and other interest groups on your behalf. Using an adaptive approach in our study designs, we only do what is important and necessary in order to minimize project costs and offer innovative solutions that are better for both you and the environment.

What stage of construction are you looking for?
Pre-Construction
During Construction
Post Construction

Approvals - Conservation Authority, Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) and Fisheries Canada (DFO)

Review agencies authorize land development and construction projects based on technical work documenting and evaluating environmental conditions of a site and proposed mitigation and off-set measures.

GEMS will work with review agencies to scope and complete the studies needed to support these approvals and work with reviewers to negotiate conditions and secure all your ecological approvals and authorizations.

Baseline Studies

The initial phase of any project is to determine the naturally occurring components of a natural feature. Prior to any long-term planning the knowledge of the baseline conditions allows for collection of long-term data and monitoring to note any ecological changes and impacts.

GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists can implement contingency plans based on triggers obtained through collecting data during baseline studies.

Benthic Invertebrates

Essential to any aquatic community is the assemblage of the benthic invertebrates. The benthic community can aid in the determination of the health of an aquatic system.

GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists can complete both sampling and identification of benthic invertebrates down to the genus level where required.

Compensation Plans

Permitted removals of natural features typically require compensation for removal and commonly in greater than 1:1 ratios. Compensation is also a common mitigation for impacts to natural features.

Where impacts are noted GEMS has certified restoration ecologists who can help provide input on compensation / restoration plans.

Conformity Statements

In locations where specific policies, like the Oakridges Moraine and Niagara Escarpment Protection Areas, GEMS experienced ecologists can prepare conformity statements to include with development and permit applications.

Dam & Diversion Design & Implementation

Implementing dam and diversion design is routinely focused on the engineering aspects however an integral part is how to adjust for site conditions and protect aquatic life.

GEMS ecological staff provides input to the larger engineering team by ensuring that the habitat and species within a location are protected. In locations where dams and diversions are temporary GEMS aquatic biologists and ecologists can also provide on site recommendations for installation.

Ecological Assessment – Vegetation – Wildlife – Birds – Bats – Aquatics

Surveys that assess the ecology of a site location can include many types of flora and fauna through a number of methodologies. GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists are familiar with the required protocols for completing these surveys and can provide multiple levels of detail dependant on permitting and approval requirements.

Requirements for ecological assessments are determined through consultation with conservation authorities, municipalities and provincial and federal regulatory bodies. GEMS staff routinely corresponds with all applicable agencies and long-standing relationships with these agencies.

Ecological Land Classification (ELC)

Natural feature communities are based on a classification system that takes into account multiple factors such as soils, water and vegetation.

GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists are qualified in completing ecological land classifications through completion of ecology surveys.

Endangered Species Act Mitigation Plan

Impacts to SAR require permits under the Endangered Species Act which require mitigation plans.

GEMS ecologist and aquatic biologists can complete mitigation plans for permit approvals.

Endangered Species Act Permit Compliance Monitoring

Where SAR are to be impacted and permits are in place, compliance monitoring is a typical condition of the permits.

GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists can complete compliance monitoring for Endangered Species Act Permits.

Environmental Assessment

Federal or Municipal Class EA work in many cases requires a natural heritage component (i.e. MTO Environmental Screening Document etc.).

GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists routinely work with engineers to complete various types of EAs under multiple jurisdictions and regulations.

Environmental Constraint Mapping

Prior to detailed site plans it is best to know the constraints a property holds due to locations of natural features. This allows for planning to incorporate buffers and reduce encroaching on features such as woodlots, wetlands and valleys.

GEMS ecologist and aquatic biologists complete environmental constraints mapping as routine baseline and due diligence phase studies for owners, developers and prospective purchasers of land for sale.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)

An Environmental Impact Assessment or Statement documents the environmental effects of a proposed project, before it is carried out.

An EIA or EIS will:

  • Identify potential adverse environmental effects;
  • Propose measure to mitigate adverse environment effects;
  • Predict whether there will be significant adverse environmental effects, after implementing mitigation measures; and,
  • Include a follow-up program to verify the accuracy of the EA and the effectiveness of the mitigation measures.

GEMS works in consultation with agencies to scope and complete the field surveys needed to support construction and development EIA and EIS requirements.

Fish & Wildlife Rescue / Relocation

There are a lot of places where you might encounter and relocate fish or wildlife during a development or construction project.

GEMS staff can coordinate permits to remove/relocate fish and wildlife and a qualified to undertake the fish and wildlife rescue / relocation work.

Fish Habitat Assessment & Baseline Studies

Aquatic systems have unique characteristics which require specific survey data for classification of fish community assemblages.

GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists are qualified to complete assessments of fish habitat and baseline aquatic studies using multiple protocols through consultation with local, provincial and federal agencies.

Fisheries Act Permits - Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has jurisdiction over fisheries or fish habitat across the country.

GEMS experienced ecologists are experts coordinating the permits, authorizations and approvals that you need for projects that effect fish or fish habitat.

Identification & Permitting for Threatened & Endangered Species (SARA & ESA)

GEMS staff are all well versed in the Species at Risk legislation as well as identification of SAR and their habitat. GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists work closely with the MNRF to obtain the required permits to work within regulated areas of SAR as well as any compliance monitoring or mitigation plan requirements.

In-Stream Permits, Fish Rescue & Habitat Compensation

Working in, or near water triggers the need agency review and permission.

GEMS works with review agencies to coordinate approvals and undertake all of the reporting needed before-, during-, and after- your project.

Monitoring & Mitigation Plans

Review agencies require monitoring and mitigation plans to address potential impacts identified associated with a planned or proposed development or construction project.

GEMS ecologists are qualified to develop and implement monitoring and mitigation plans to address the outcome and findings of EIS, ecologic studies and, or assessments.

Natural Heritage Assessment

Natural Heritage Assessment document systems made up of natural features, areas and linkages intended to provide connectivity and support natural processes that are needed to maintain biological and geological diversity, natural function and populations of native species following Ontario Provincial Policy Statement and municipal government requirements.

GEMS can provide all aspects of a Natural Heritage Study from feature and constraint mapping, to agency consultation, and input on mitigation and protections features.

Natural Heritage Study

Natural Heritage Studies document systems made up of natural features, areas and linkages intended to provide connectivity and support natural processes that are needed to maintain biological and geological diversity, natural function and populations of native species following Ontario Provincial Policy Statement and municipal government requirements.

GEMS can provide all aspects of a Natural Heritage Study from feature and constraint mapping, to agency consultation, and input on mitigation and protections features.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry (MNRF) and Fisheries & Oceans Canada (DFO) Collection and Capture Permits

During construction and development activities in locations that contain natural habitat there are protection measures in place for species that reside there. Stormwater management ponds are typical man-made features which contain suitable habitat for species that can be impacted.

Permits to handle, relocate or euthanize species are required where living species are to be encountered and impacted. GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists routinely obtain permits to complete activities where species such as fish and wildlife will need to be managed or protected.

Ontario Wetland Evaluation (OWES)

Site locations which contain wetlands require specific types of assessments. Wetlands can range in significance (local, provincial, etc.) however all wetlands play a fundamental role in the landscape.

GEMS ecologists are qualified to complete wetland evaluations as per the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) protocol known as the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System (OWES). GEMS can also complete evaluations of wetlands which do not require the MNRF protocol.

Overall Benefits Permits

Where species at risk are encountered part of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) includes determining what overall benefits that can be provided for a project.

GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists can complete overall benefit permit applications as well as coordinate and complete conditions of the permit.

Species At Risk (SAR) Assessment

Through completion of any and all ecological surveys completed by GEMS we also determine the suitability for species at risk. Not all species at risk locations are known/identified and many times protection of these species includes protection of the habitats they use.

By assessing the habitats GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists are able to note the potential for species at risk and can provide mitigation to protect the communities in which the species at risk may use or are present in.

Stream & Fish Assessment

GEMS ecologists are qualified and trained on applying the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and the Fisheries and Oceans Canada recognized Ontario Stream Assessment Protocol (OSAP) including aquatic habitat evaluation and documenting fish community assemblages.

Surface Water Quality Assessment

Surface water quality assessment is more than just collecting water quality samples; it includes evaluating aquatic habitats and community assemblages of the fish and benthic invertebrates that live in the surface water communities.

GEMS ecologists and aquatic biologists have the experience and perspective to efficiently and effectively conduct surface water quality assessments for land development and construction projects across the country.

Tree Inventory

Areas that contain trees which may be impacted through development or construction activities require inventory and survey data related to the size, species and specific location of trees to guide mitigation and protection measures.

GEMS ecologists are able to complete various types of tree inventories while working closely with arborists and landscape architects who are also qualified butternut health assessors and adept at completing hazard tree assessments.

Watercourse Restoration Design

GEMS team of experienced ecologists and aquatic biologists provide ecological design advice and input to landscape designers, fluvial geomorphologists, water resource engineers and hydrologists for watercourse restoration and rehabilitation projects.