Wetland BMP Knowledge Exchange Monthly Webinar Series

Boreal Fen Vegetation Initiation on Residual Mineral Substrates

Presented by Felix Nwaishi, Mount Royal University and Bin Xu, NAIT Centre for Boreal Research

Energy exploration in Alberta’s oil sands regions has led to the development of thousands of mineral features (well pads and mineral roads) on boreal peatlands, which are regionally and globally important ecosystems. Long-term impacts of these features on peatland vegetation and hydrology require innovative reclamation approaches to remove the mineral footprint and restore ecosystem functions. Current approaches involve complete removal of the mineral fill and geotextile. Although this approach shows promise in limited bog restoration trials, wide adoption and application had led to highly variable, often undesirable results, particularly in boreal fens. It also requires access to fill disposal sites and can create additional disturbance during the reclamation process, both increasing final costs. Here we present a pilot study utilizing partial fill removal to restore site-level hydrologic connectivity and create soil moisture and nutrient conditions capable of supporting donor fen vegetation transferred using a modified Moss Layer Transfer Technique.

The study site located near Slave Lake, AB, is within a treed rich fen complex. In spring 2020, sandy mineral fill was shaved off and re-profiled as a low hill along one edge of the well pad. The resulting wetland surface is now level with the average hollow microforms found in the adjacent peatland area. Donor moss with vascular diaspores was collected from within the fen complex and spread in experimental plots with or without a mulch cover and fertilizer application. We will present the promising early results from the first year hydro-chemical monitoring and field vegetation assessment. This approach offers an alternative option for boreal fen reclamation that reduces operational costs and an opportunity to improve mineral feature reclamation success in peatlands while meeting provincial criteria. 

To register please visit,: https://bit.ly/3kAX2iR

November 25th, 2020 12:00 PM through  1:00 PM

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