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Synthesis Reports (Renewable Resources)

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  1. Managing Woody Materials on Industrial Sites: Meeting Economic, Ecological and Forest Health Goals [Download]

    Title: Managing Woody Materials on Industrial Sites: Meeting Economic, Ecological and Forest Health Goals
    Creator: Pyper, M.
    Subjects: Land reclamation, Woody materials
    Date Created: 2012
  2. Summary of Resiliency of Reclaimed Boreal Forest Landscapes Seminar [Download]

    Title: Summary of Resiliency of Reclaimed Boreal Forest Landscapes Seminar
    Creator: Pyper, M.P.
    Description: Ecological resilience, first defined by Holling in 1973, can be broadly described as the capacity of an ecosystem to respond to a perturbation or disturbance by resisting damage and recovering quickly, but other authors have provided variations on this theme since 1973. Ecological resilience is one potential measure of the goal of a self-sustaining ecosystem and is being considered for inclusion in the Cumulative Environmental Management Association’s Criteria and Indicators Framework for assessing reclamation success in oil sands mines. For reclaimed lands to be considered self-sustaining they should respond to natural and anthropogenic disturbances in a similar manner to an analogous undisturbed landscape might respond to the same disturbances. The University of Alberta’s Department of Renewable Resources and the Oil Sands Research and Information Network jointly hosted a one-day seminar on January 22, 2013 at the University of Alberta to discuss the concept of ecological resiliency and how it can be applied to reclaimed landscapes. 108 people from a variety of organizations and technical interests attended the seminar. There was general agreement amongst the presenters that resilience is a valuable topic to consider in reclamation planning. However, there was also agreement that implementing management systems based on resiliency would require a shift away from managing for consistency and single objectives (e.g., soil depth, stems/ha), to a system that embraces change and is focused on ensuring ecological processes are reintroduced to reclaimed landscapes (i.e., resiliency). Some of the key ecological processes that were identified included: nutrient cycling and moisture availability; soil characteristics (e.g., pH, nutrient availability, propagules, soil biota, etc.); understory plant diversity (particularly when species are matched to the correct ecosite); presence of keystone species; and the proper construction of landforms which include slope, aspect and variability in their design. The seminar was, by design, focused on providing information about the concept of ecological resilience and its potential application to land reclamation. The seminar participants recommended further sessions to bring the high-level concepts down to on-the-ground application. There was also interest in holding a similar session in a year’s time to provide more information and to focus on getting more technical detail, perhaps by focusing on specific research and implementation projects.
    Subjects: Wetlands, Forest, Oil Sands, Seminar, OSRIN, TR-30, Oilsands, Tarsands, Alberta, Trees, Reclamation Success, Tar Sands, Landform Design, Ecological Resilience
    Date Created: 2013/02/13
  3. A Visual Guide to Handling Woody Materials for Forested Land Reclamation [Download]

    Title: A Visual Guide to Handling Woody Materials for Forested Land Reclamation
    Creator: Pyper, M.
    Description: In a short period of time, the conversation around handling woody materials – deadwood such as logs, branches and stumps – has shifted dramatically. From piling and burning, to mulching and now towards keeping ‘whole logs’ on sites. The changes have led to confusion and this guide is intended to provide clarity around wise use of woody materials in reclamation programs. This guide is intended to answer the following questions: • Why has there been a shift in how we manage woody materials? • How can woody materials be managed effectively on sites? • What do effective woody material applications look like? Through this work, we hope to promote effective use of woody materials in an effort to encourage revegetation on industrial sites through the creation of microsites. For a more detailed look at managing woody materials see: ‘Managing woody materials on industrial sites: Meeting economic, ecological and forest health goals through a collaborative approach’ by Tim Vinge and Matthew Pyper.
    Subjects: Tarsands, Alberta, Oil Sands, Forestry, TR-31, Tar Sands, Fire, Woody Materials, Reclamation, Oilsands, OSRIN
    Date Created: 2013/02/15
  4. Potential of LFH Mineral Soil Mixes for Land Reclamation in Alberta [Download]

    Title: Potential of LFH Mineral Soil Mixes for Land Reclamation in Alberta
    Creator: Naeth, M.A.
    Description: LFH salvaged with small amounts of upper horizon mineral soil for land reclamation (hereafter LFH mineral soil mix) has proven to be an important source of seeds and vegetative propagules for forest plant communities. Until recently in Canada, LFH mineral soil mix was not selectively salvaged from upland forest sites prior to disturbance and was mainly incorporated with deeper mineral soil horizons or subsoil as part of conventional salvage and placement practices. The Alberta government is beginning to require oil sands and mountain and foothills coal mines to salvage and store this material separately from underlying mineral soil and subsoil for use in reclamation. The potential of LFH as a source of native propagules for revegetation of disturbed landscapes and a source of organic matter and nutrients in soil reclamation has not been widely tested. This report summarizes available literature on potential use of LFH material in Alberta and provides an analysis of the current state of knowledge and future directions. Although donor soil seed banks have been successfully used as a revegetation technique on mine sites and land disturbances in other ecosystems for some time, only recently has research been conducted using forest LFH for mine revegetation in Alberta. Most of this research has been conducted on a small scale with few operational scale studies and a rigorous experimental approach is often lacking. Currently there are only a few peer reviewed publications on the use of LFH as a propagule source or reclamation soil in Canada. Recent research shows LFH mineral soil mix is a good source of propagules for native and woody species that are not readily available commercially or by wild collection. Most plants in LFH mineral soil mix establish from seed and resultant communities have greater plant cover, more upland species and fewer non-native species than with traditional peat mineral soil mix used in oil sands mines. Stockpiling before placement reduces seed viability and species diversity, thus direct placement is recommended although stockpiling still results in more diverse and abundant plant communities than peat mineral soil mix. Placement depth has greater effect on plant community development than salvage depth. Thresholds for salvage and placement have not been determined and are dependent on donor soil texture, ecosite, topography, forest type and substrate placed on. Besides using LFH mineral soil mix to revegetate disturbed landscapes, it can be used to improve soil quality. Compared to conventional peat mineral soil mixes in the oil sands, LFH mineral soil mix has a texture and pH more similar to natural forest and provides greater available phosphorus and potassium. Soil microbial activity and diversity is also greater which may lead to a more productive and resilient plant community in the long term. Recent research on LFH mineral soil mix for forest reclamation has led to development of regulatory requirements. Short term research results (< 10 years) clearly show benefits of LFH mineral soil mix for reclamation. However, whether short term effects will persist with time and lead to a more natural, diverse and sustainable plant community than conventional reclamation techniques is unknown. Enhanced soil properties and native regeneration strongly suggest reclaimed communities are on a trajectory towards the structure and function of self-sustaining natural forest. By researching a few key operational and ecological questions, benefits of LFH mineral soil mix can be maximized and ongoing reclamation costs reduced.
    Subjects: Oil Sands, TR-35, Tarsands, OSRIN, Alberta, Vegetation, LFH, Reclamation, Oilsands, Tar Sands, Soil Handling
    Date Created: 2013/06/20