Canadian Forest Service Publications

Estimating and monitoring the long-term growth and productivity of boreal forests on reclaimed oil sands sites: preliminary results and future outlook. 2014. Huang, S.; Pinno, B.; Vassov, R.; Tomm, B.; Yang, Y. In JSM Proceedings, Advances in Ecological Modeling, Section on Statistics and the Environment. Alexandria, VA: American Statistical Association, pp. 3902-3916.

Year: 2014

Available from: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35911

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Abstract

Alberta is the largest supplier of oil to the U.S. Oil sands mining companies in Alberta are required to use effective conservation and reclamation measures to ensure that land disturbed in oil sands mining is reclaimed to achieve an equivalent capability to what was present prior to mining. It is crucial that in areas designed to support forests, the productivity of the forests is maintained. Site index is the most common metric in forest models for assessing the long-term growth and productivity of forests. Comparing undisturbed natural site index with post-reclamation site index is an important component of demonstrating equivalent forest growth and productivity on pre- and post-reclamation sites. Based on tree sectioning data from 60 plots at 20 of the oldest reclaimed sites that cover three main boreal tree species, detailed stem analysis is performed. Preliminary results show that site index and post‐reclamation growth of all three species are comparable to those on undisturbed natural sites. Future outlook of this study in terms of collecting additional data, performing further analyses and monitoring the long-term outcome on reclaimed landscapes, is discussed.

Plain Language Summary

Oil sands mining companies in Alberta are required to ensure that land disturbed in oil sands mining is returned to a similar state (i.e., equivalent capability) that was present before mining started in the area. It is crucial that the productivity of forested areas be maintained. In this study we assessed the long-term growth and productivity of trees on reclaimed sites, and we compared these sites with natural sites in the same region. We performed a detailed stem analysis using tree sectioning data from 60 plots at 20 of the oldest reclaimed sites in the northeastern part of Alberta’s boreal forest. Our study focused on the three main boreal tree species in this area. Preliminary results suggest that the forest productivity of reclaimed oil sands sites is similar to that of undisturbed natural sites. It is important to continue to monitor reclaimed sites to assess whether the productivity of boreal forests on these sites is maintained over time.

Date modified: