Multi Criteria Evaluation Results
There was a range of spatial patterns observed in the MCE maps. The environmental MCE (Figure 3) is the lightest of all the MCE maps because it aims to avoid wetlands and forest which dominate the area. With this, the most common cells were from unsuitability 5 - 7 with a total area of 98 006 km2 with the mean score being 8.1 and having a standard deviation of 0.95. In contrast, the social MCE shows a dark pattern around areas closer to towns while lighter colors are observed nears forests, lakes, and rivers (Figure 4). The majority of the social MCE had cells with a unsuitability range of 7 - 9 (total area of 91538 km2) which coincides with the average for this MCE of 7.6 and has a standard deviation of 0.78. Finally, the economic MCE (Figure 5) shows a higher number of darker areas (66 998 km2) predominantly associated with towns and mineral claims. This means that most of the area is suitable for the path to go through due to the small weight associated with forests and wetlands. Additionally, this MCE had an average value of 7.1 and a standard deviation of 1.
Least Cost Path Results
The results of the LCP were not congruent with what was expected for this study. The environmental viewpoint was anticipated to be longer since it would aim to avoid forest and wetlands. The economic viewpoint was expected to have a shorter length as it would be the most direct route from Pickle Lake to the Ring of Fire to reduce costs. Finally, the social viewpoint was expected to be the longest as it would aim to pass through Webequie, Summer Beaver, and Lansdowne House while still considering economical and environmental variables. However, these were not consistent with the results of the model. The model ran successfully for each viewpoint with LCP results showing that all three corridors identified in Figure 6. The environmental corridor was 302 km long having a mean weighing on its associated MCE of 7.7 with a minimum value of 6.4 and a maximum value of 9.4 crossed. The total weight crossed for the environmental corridor was 52 262 making the unsuitability per km 171. The social corridor was 467 km in length with a 6.8 mean unsuitability score from its MCE with values ranging from 4.1 to 9.1. It had a total unsuitability crossed summing to 64 812 giving the score per km of 215. Finally, the economic corridor was 305 km in length crossing a mean unsuitability score of 6.0 with scores ranging from 3.8 to 8.9. The economic corridor had a total unsuitability of 98 737 resulting in a score per km of 324. This study also shows that different weighting schemes produce similar routes, specifically for the environmental and economic viewpoints.
The economic least cost pathway is about 7.5 km from the town of Webequie which is close enough to service the Reserve town and adds distance to the corridor because the town pulls this route more to the north. In contrast, the environmental pathway was shorter than anticipated partly because it did not aim to service towns and mineral claims but rather avoid wetlands, streams, rivers, and forest. Wetlands and forest covered a combined area of 101,965 km2 which would be a factor in causing the environmental pathway to avoid as much of these areas as possible. Finally, for the social viewpoint passed through the town of Webequie, Summer Beaver, and Lansdowne House adding 11.5, 12, and 22 km respectively. Furthermore, contributing factors were weighted more evenly than the other two viewpoints. As a result, this pathway was the most distinct showing substantial differences between it and the economic and environmental route. However, the segments connecting the routes were also different from the economic route because it was not influenced as heavily by mineral claims.
Ultimately, the least cost pathways were similar for the environmental and economic corridors, whereas the social corridor showed vast differences. The first half of the corridor involves frequent overlap between the environmental and economic pathways. From 100 to 160 km there is a slight variation between the corridors with all three branching off. The environmental route goes north to avoid forest, whereas the economic route goes south to service mineral claims. The largest variation between the two occurs around 210 km where the economic route services the town of Webequie and northern mineral claims. These variations are seen clearly in Figure 6.
Figure 6: Final Route showing the three corridors.