Conceptualizing Water Movement in the Boreal Plains. Implications for Watershed Reconstruction

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  • The aim of this document is to provide guidance on landscape reconstruction based on the results of more than a decade of research in natural forest systems on the Boreal Plains. It is hoped that the synthesis will prove useful to a range of audiences – from general readers interested in the broader concepts and implications of the research to practitioners who require technical details on designing a landscape or directing day-to-day reclamation operations in the field. The document can be grouped into five main sections. Section A, the Executive Summary, is the highest-level synthesis of the conceptual model. It contains the key learnings from the research and their overarching implications for landscape reconstruction. Section B provides the research context: a brief history of the research, focal questions, and locations and descriptions of the study sites. Section C provides a synthesis of the core concepts on which the new conceptual model of water flow in the Boreal Plains has been developed. Section C.1 introduces the structure of the body of the document, which pivots around the hydrologic context, composition, and connectivity, and the water balance as discussed in the Executive Summary. Section C.2 summarizes the basic concepts and key principles and develops the core of the conceptual model. In general, Section C provides the fundamental basis required to develop plans and understand water flow in these landscapes using this new conceptual model. Section D describes the details of key components of the landscape. This section fleshes out the underpinnings of the basic concepts and provides details of landscape features. Section E provides examples of how to approach a water balance in these landscapes, some key numbers that can be used to guide the landscape practitioner, a summary of how the information can be used in landscape reconstruction, and some outstanding research needs. This section relies heavily on the details described in Sections C and D. One core concept arising from the research is that in landscapes there are repeating hydrologic elements and processes that occur at all scales. Therefore, one has to telescope up and down continually to understand the hydrologic behaviour observed at the various scales. Similarly, important concepts and connections run through the document and reappear in numerous sections. Therefore, for the person who reads through the document from beginning to end, repetition of these key ideas in each section will be obvious. The reader will also note that each section of the document contains a summary of key concepts from the research in natural systems. The implications of these key concepts for landscape reconstruction are reported at the end of each section. This approach is meant to illustrate, as clearly as possible, how the authors arrived at their recommendations for landscape reconstruction based on research predominantly conducted in natural boreal systems. The statements in the body of the document are based on evidence/data collected over a decade of research, most of which may be found in published papers, listed in Section F. The implications for landscape reconstruction are suggestions for consideration, based on the research findings.

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    Conditions of Use Devito, K., Mendoza, C., and Qualizza, C. (2012). Conceptualizing water movement in the Boreal Plains. Implications for watershed reconstruction. Synthesis report prepared for the Canadian Oil Sands Network for Research and Development, Environmental and Reclamation Research Group. 164p. Copyright © 2012. Kevin Devito, Carl Mendoza and Clara Qualizza. Permission for non-commercial use, publication or presentation of excerpts or figures is granted, provided appropriate attribution (as above) is cited. Commercial reproduction, in whole or in part, is not permitted without prior writtenconsent. As a professional courtesy, the academic authors would appreciate being notified as to how and where their work is being used, citedand implemented. An email with particulars to Kevin.Devito@UAlberta.caor is sufficient. The end user assumes all risks associated with any interpretation of, or implementation based upon, this work.