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Oil Sands Research and Information Network
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Oil Sands
Land Capability
Tar Sands
Land Use
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Canada, Alberta, Fort McMurray
The Equivalent Land Capability Workshop, held on November 26, 2010 at the University of Alberta, provided an opportunity for 60 reclamation specialists to share views about Equivalent Land Capability and how it is applied to oil sands mine reclamation, and to identify research and information needs. The purpose of the workshop was to develop a shared understanding of the concept and application of Equivalent Land Capability (ELC) as it applies to oil sands mine reclamation. The workshop format was a series of presentations, each followed by group discussions, which were guided by a series of questions provided by the organizers. A final open forum plenary discussion asked what people had learned and what they felt the next steps should be. There was general agreement that government should develop a policy document on what ELC means today, and acknowledge that the vision may change in the future. The policy document should acknowledge that ELC is much broader than the regulatory definition. ELC is a province-wide issue not just oil sands – therefore the oil sands could be a chapter in a bigger policy document. The policy should clearly distinguish the concept from the practice (implementation, measurement, etc.). External discussion papers could be also commissioned, with representation from all the publics. The compilation of these papers can act as a pre-policy paper – a synthesis of opinions meant to inform policy. Contributors may need to be paid a stipend. It is not necessary to agree and there can be a diversity of opinions. Additional recommendations that came out of the meeting are summarized below: • Revisit 1998 End Land Use Committee Report. • Re-institute the Development and Reclamation Review Committee as a tool to get better integration of government agency approaches and issues. • Develop a vehicle for sharing information on ELC (e.g., an ELC Blog). • Get more reclamation certificate applications in to test the system. • Poll the public about reclamation expectations and land use options. Additional ideas were submitted after the meeting: • Develop a flow chart that shows and explains the different reclamation stages: Define end use goals; Establish baseline inventories and long term monitoring plots; Reclamation planning; Reclamation implementation; Reclamation monitoring; and, Certification assessment. • Provide an example of an ELC through the various stages to show its change as it is proposed by a proponent after stakeholder involvement, negotiated, and then approved by government. • Define what other measurement tools there are – indicating where they are appropriate would help.
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