Reclamation for afforestation by suitable native and introduced tree and shrub species

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  • During 1976, a variety of methods and materials were used in the search for afforestation practices that will assist in the establishment of a self sustaining vegetation cover compatible with land use objectives for the Alberta oil sands area. The project study area is located on the Great, Canadian Oil Sands Company Ltd. mining lease and all test plots were situated on tailings sand (tailings dike) or overburden material (Waste Dump No. 7). Twenty four species of trees and shrubs and 23 clones of poplars were tested for their reclamation suitability. In general the poplars showed greater survival and growth than the other species used. Conclusions about individual species will not be made because the significance of one seasons observations on long lived plants is questionable until more long term observations have been made. The most productive of the eight planting sites used was on the tailings dike where a 10 cm layer of peat was mixed with the tailings sand. Perhaps the most beneficial property of the peat is that it increases the moisture holding capacity of the sand. Although a Swedish planting mattock was, used to plant seedlings, about: 1500 Manitoba maple (Acer negundo (Britt.) Sarg.) were planted with a planting bar to assess the effectiveness of a faster planting method. No significant difference resulted from the use of these two tools but it is suspected other factors such as seedling condition and time of planting masked any difference that might have occurred. Both coniferous and deciduous seeds were used on a seed bed of tailings sand and peat mixed together. The intention was to establish the potential of direct seeding of woody species for revegetation on the tailings dike Jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.) was the most successful species to germinate and survive. Rodent damage, high soil surface temperature, erosion and proper species selection are some of the problems which have to be solved if direct seeding is going to be useful. Plots of Basford willow (Salix fragilis var. 'Basfordiana' Redher) were set up on the tailings dike to examine what effect position on the dike's slope might have on seedling performance. While performance did vary along the slope the variance was not consistent between plots. Eight hundred cuttings of native balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera L.) were planted and it would seem the larger, more deeply planted cuttings sprouted the best. The performance of cuttings was poor compared to seedlings. In the fall, approximately 2000 container seedlings were planted to compare their success to spring planted seedlings. This planting time is being investigated as an alternative to the often busy spring season, and it also allows the seedlings to take advantage of favourable early spring growing conditions.

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