Canadian Forest Service Publications

Maximizing natural trembling aspen seedling establishment on a reclaimed boreal oil sands site. 2015. Pinno, B.D.; Errington, R.C. Ecological Restoration 33(1):43-50.

Year: 2015

Available from: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35914

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Abstract

Actively facilitating the natural establishment of trees on reclamation sites is seen as an important step in ecosystem recovery after oil sands mining. We examined the effect of different reclamation prescriptions, including two soil types (peat-mineral mix and forest floor-mineral mix) and two fertilizer levels (200 kg N ha–1 and no fertilizer), on naturally established trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides) seedlings and other deciduous trees. Aspen has a tiny, windblown seed which is very sensitive to moisture stress during establishment. Seedling establishment was greatest on peat-mineral mix soil with no fertilizer application and was related to the increased surface roughness and soil moisture and lack of vegetation competition with this soil prescription. Surprisingly, seedling establishment was not related to microsite characteristics such as concavity. Once established, average seedling height was not significantly different among soil types or fertilization treatments. Overall, using peat-mineral mix soil and increasing surface roughness offer a starting point for developing best management practices for facilitating natural deciduous tree seedling establishment in this region.

Plain Language Summary

Establishing trees on reclamation sites is an important step in ecosystem recovery after oil sands mining. We studied the natural seedling establishment of trembling aspen and other deciduous tree species on different operational reclamation treatments. Natural seedling establishment was greatest on soil types with high moisture holding capacity, was positively related to soil surface roughness, and was negatively related to fertilizer application. These results offer a starting point for developing best management practices for actively assisting natural seedling establishment on oil sands reclamation sites.

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