British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposia

Use of vegetation survey data in reclamation Lea, E. C. (Edward Charles), 1952- 1982

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Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation          USE OF VEGETATION SURVEY DATA IN RECLAMATION Paper Presented  by E.C. Lea Terrestrial Studies Branch Ministry of Environment Kelowna, B.C.                          253 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  USE OF VEGETATION SURVEY DATA IN RECLAMATION "Civilised man was nearly always able to become master of his environment temporarily. His chief troubles came from his delusions that his temporary mastership was permanent. He thought of himself as 'master of the world,' while failing to understand fully the laws of nature. "Man, whether civilised or savage, is a child of nature - he is not the master of nature. He must conform his actions to certain natural laws if he is to maintain his dominance over his environment. When he tries to circumvent the laws of nature, he usually destroys the natural environment that sustains him. And when his environment deteriorates rapidly, his civilisation declines. "One man has given a brief outline of history by saying that 'civilised man has marched across the face of the earth and left a desert in his footprints.' This statement may be some-what of an exaggeration, but it is not without foundation. Civilised man has despoiled most of the lands on which he has lived for long. This is the main reason why his progressive civilisations have moved from place to place. It has been the chief cause for the decline of his civilisations in older settled regions. It has been the dominant factor in deter-mining all trends of history. "The writers of history have seldom noted the importance of land use. They seem not to have recognised that the destinies of most of man's empires and civilisations were determined largely by the way the land was used. While recognising the influence of environment on history, they fail to note that man usually changed or despoiled his environment. "How did civilised man despoil this favourable environment? He did it mainly by depleting or destroying the natural resources. He cut down or burned most of the usable timber from forested hillsides and valleys. He overgrazed and denuded the grasslands that fed his livestock. He killed most of the wildlife and much of the fish and other water life. He permitted erosion to rob his farm land of its productive top-soil. He allowed eroded soil to clog the streams and fill his reservoirs, irrigation canals, and harbours with silt. In many cases, he used and wasted most of the easily mined metals or other needed minerals. Then his civilisation declined amidst the despoliation of his own creation or he moved to new land. There have been from ten to thirty different civilisa-tions that have followed this road to ruin (the number depend-ing on who classifies the civilisations)." Dale and Carter, 1955 255 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  Reclamation in British Columbia has gone past an initial stage, where a green cover of agronomics was used, to a second stage where native material is sometimes planted after an initial cover has been created. A third stage needs to be a goal for reclamation in the province. This includes 1) determining the productive potential of the lands on and surrounding a minesite or other disturbance, 2) determining set land-uses after mining that are compatible with this productive potential, and provincial and regional land use objectives and 3) reclamation aimed at this land use which generally will necessitate the planting of pioneering vegetation (using natives and/or agronomics) that will promote site conditions appropriate for encouraging early serai vegeta-tion and ensuing succession to mature vegetation with little or no maintenance. The first step in this process, determining the productive potential of an area, requires an assessment of the environmental conditions of the minesite and surrounding area. This will determine constraints to use of the area as well as the species, both native and agronomic, that can be used for the variety of environmental conditions on the minesite. Included in this assessment should be a determination of natural succession including what pioneering species are present. An assessment of native vegetation and soils found under disturbed conditions is useful for identifying potentially successful reclamation species. Once potential is assessed, a future land use for the minesite must be determined that will be compatible with local, regional and provincial perspectives. Present uses of the land in and around the minesite need to be assessed and long-term reclamation goals must be set in consulta-tion with regional and provincial resource and user groups. The most important factor in creating a vegetative cover on reclaimed lands is providing a suitable growth medium. Alberta guidelines (Land Conservation and Reclamation Council, 1977) state that: "the operator shall place soil or other plant-supporting materials on the surface of the reclaimed lands so that a restructured soil, having a depth, and chemical and physical characteristics suitable and sufficient for supporting plant life, is available to achieve the prescribed post-disturbance land use." 256 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  The development of the necessary chemical, physical, and biological properties in raw mine tailings is a slow process. Topsoil application to mine tailing materials will greatly increase the ease and speed of revegetation. For this purpose stockpiling of topsoil is recommended. Revegetation should be done in two steps: 1) create an initial cover, and 2) create a pioneering vegetation that will develop (succession) to a self-maintaining vegetative cover. The first consideration with establishing an initial cover is to prevent erosion. Generally grasses and legumes are suited to prevent surface erosion. However, seeding with grasses alone may form a shallow layer of sod which will initially reduce surface erosion but on steep slopes under wet conditions the sod may slough off (Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, 1981). An initial cover should include deeper rooting species such as shrubs or trees to prevent this. As well, the initial cover cannot be such that it will prevent the invasion or establishment of native species by either creating too much competition, a thick, impenetrable sod layer or by creating site conditions inhospitable to establishment of natives. This may be the case in many of the "grasslands" created at minesites in the province. Initial establishment of native species will allow them to compete as they will become prominent early. The initial cover should be followed by vegetation that will allow easy manipulation or will succeed naturally toward vegetation required for the proposed final land use on the site. Pioneer species, adapted to the environment conditions in the area, are most valuable as they initiate humus accumulation and nutrient cycling in the early stages of succession making the site suitable for other species of later succes-sional stages (Bell and Meidinger, 1977), by modifying microclimate, soil microflora, and establishing soil formation processes. Plant species, for both initial cover and for ultimate land use, must be chosen to be adapted to the environmental conditions present and to be compatible with the chosen land use. Table 1 gives some advantages and disadvantages of th use of agronomic species and native species. Native species clearly have many advantages to their use but presently are unavailable commercially or they are expensive. This may change in the future. Hubbard and Bell (1977) give a listing of species that have been used or may be suitable for reclamation in parts of the province. 257 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  TABLE 1  COMPARISON OF AGRONOMIC AND NATIVE SPECIES FOR USE IN RECLAMATION Plant Type   Advantages Disadvantages Agronomics   - seed easily attainable - require long-term fertilization - inexpensive - good for agricultural - may be unpalatable to wildlife - rapid establishment       - not necessarily adapted for environmental conditions particularly harsh conditions - not biologically balanced (weedy or outcompeted) Native      - little maintenance -      - seed and stock is unavailable commercially establishment - self-perpetuating - lead   - expensive to natural communities by improving soil conditions, in balance with natural vegetation - visually integrated with surrounding environment - wildlife adapted to them - pioneer species are usually tolerant to low nutrient and moisture conditions - pioneer species are especially adapted to withstand bright sunshine and extremes in temperatures - adapted for environmental conditions, including harsh ones such as alpine, south aspects 258 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  Selection of plant species for a particular site should be based on the following factors (Watson and others, 1980): - climatic adaptation - land use value (for agriculture, forestry, wildlife) - availability and cost - establishment requirements and success - rehabilitation value (e.g. soil binding, nutrient additions) - physical and chemical microsite tolerances - ecological role - bio compatibility - ease of propagation - nutrient and maintenance requirements - elevational tolerances - resistance to disease, insects, grazing, winterkill and similar factors The Terrestrial Studies Branch and other branches of the Assessment and Planning Division of the British Columbia Ministry of Environment collect data and produce maps and written documents concerning vegeta-tion, soils, surficial geology and climate. The applications of this information to reclamation is generalized in Table 2. The main areas in the province surveyed by the vegetation unit have been the Northeast Coal area, East Kootenays, West Kootenays, Vancouver Island, Hazelton-Prince Rupert area, Shuswap and the southwest coast to Bute Inlet (see Map). One of the major deficiencies of our data collection, in regard to mine reclamation, has been a severe shortage of data collected on recently disturbed areas and the species pioneering on these sites. However, this kind of information was collected for 15 sites in the Northeast Coal project area. In the future much work needs to occur in research dealing with native species (see Bell and Meidinger, 1977). A report for British Columbia similar to the two volume report Manual of Plant Species Suitability for Reclamation in Alberta (Watson and others, 1980) would be a valuable addition to reclamation in the province. 259 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  It would also be beneficial to long-term reclamation if: 1. short- and long-term land-use objectives were specified 2. the use of native vegetation were promoted by increasing research to improve propagation techniques and facilities to supply seeds and planting stock. If use of native material is stressed, research will be encouraged and planting stock may become available through time. This must be a long-term objective of reclamation in the province. 260 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  TABLE 2  DATA AND PRODUCTS AVAILABLE AND APPLICATION IN RECLAMATION:  VEGETATION Type of Information      Application Zonation Maps - broad climatic perspective; tree species limitations; broad successional trends within an area and general species suitabiIity Vegetation Landscape Maps - variety of environmental conditions and associated plant  (see Figures I and 2)       communities that can be expected in an area; species that are          successful under certain environmental conditions; specific species suitability Succession Information     - species and their role in vegetation dynamics; what species and Tables (see Figure 3)       occur from early succession to climax; communities that may be attainable under certain environmental conditions in the     landscape (can serve as a guide in long-term reclamation plans of an area?) Vegetation Types        - listing of plant communities and the environmental conditions (see Figure 4)   under which each group of species is found including soils and site conditions; can relate environmental characteristics to individual species and their suitability for particular sites Soil Association/ - listing of soil associations and the vegetation types that Vegetation Type have been found on each; allows relating vegetation types to Correlation Tables        soils maps to determine what plant species may be suitable on (see Figure 5) a particular soils map unit or soil in an area Plot Descriptions       - plot survey data which includes a listing of species, percentage cover, phenology, physical site characteristics and soils data; can be used to indicate specific site conditions for individual plant species and the soils they are successful on; species distribution Reports - summary of most of the above information in written form 261 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  OTHER BIOPHYSICAL DATA1 - Climate Maps - valuable to indicate the conditions available for plant - freeze-free period growth - heat units - moisture deficits - growing season precipitation - climate capability for agriculture - Climate Data - valuable to indicate the conditions available for plant - for various sites growth throughout the province - Soil Maps and Reports       - indicate the physical and chemical conditions available - agriculture capability       as a growth medium for reclamation; laboratory analysis - forestry capability         of many samples exists; erodability of soils; soils stabiIity - Terrain Maps and Reports     - engineering characteristics of surf ici al materials; potential hazards such as avalanches and landslides; availability of aggregate sources 'From Davis (personal communication) and LacelIe (personal communication). 262 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation   263 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation   264 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation   265 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation   Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation   Figure   5     -     Selected  table  of Soil Association/Vegetation Type  Correlation Tables   for the  East Kootenay  area 267 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  268 Figure   6: Areas of Vegetation Surveys Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  REFERENCES Bell, M.A.M. and D.V. Meidinger. 1977. Native species in reclamation of disturbed lands. In Reclamation of land disturbed by mining -Proceedings of the British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium. Ministry of Mines and Petroleum Resources, pp. 143-157. Dale, T. and V.G. Carter. 1955. Topsoil and Civilization. University of Oklahoma Press, U.S.A. as quoted in Schumacher, E.F. 1973. Small Is Beautiful, Sphere Books Ltd. London, England. Davis, R.L. Personal Communication. 1982. Air Studies Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Environment. Victoria, British Columbia. Hubbard, W.F. and M.A.M. Bell. 1977. Reclamation of lands disturbed by mining in mountainous and northern areas: A selected bibliography and review relevant to British Columbia and adjacent areas. Biocon Research Ltd. Victoria, British Columbia. 251 pp. Lacelle, L.E.H. Personal Communication. 1982. Terrestrial Studies Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Kelowna, British Columbia. Land Conservation and Reclamation Council.  1977.  Guidelines for the reclamation of land affected by a surface disturbance. Alberta Environment and Alberta Energy and Natural Resources.  3 pp. and appendices. Lea, E.G. (in preparation). Biophysical resources of the East Kootenay area: Vegetation. Terrestrial Studies Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Kelowna, British Columbia. 3 volumes. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. 1981. Guidelines for coal exploration. Mineral Resources Branch, Inspection and Engineering Branch. Victoria, British Columbia, 79 pp. Rafiq, M. 1980. Lardeau Flats: Vegetation resources with interpreta-tions for wildlife management. Working Report. Terrestrial Studies Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Kelowna, British Columbia. 40 pp. 269 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  Thompson, C.E., A.P. Harcombe and R.F. Ferster, 1980. Explanatory legend for vegetation maps of the Pine-Moberly area. Working Report. Terrestrial Studies Branch, British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Kelowna, British Columbia. 21 pp. Watson, L.E., R.W. Parker and D.F. Polster. 1980. Manual of species suitability for reclamation in Alberta. Alberta Land Conservation and Reclamation Council Report #RRTAC 80-5. 2 volumes. 541 pp. 270 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  DISCUSSION RELATING TO TED LEA'S PAPER Bruce Ott, Placer Development: Could you tell us Ted what's the scale of your mapping and also is that index map you flashed up there available? Answer: For your second question, we have a booklet that describes all the areas that we have studied in the province as well as what products are available for those areas including vegetation and soils. In answer to the first question, scales vary but the stand-ard scale is 1:50 000. The zonation scales are often 1:100 000 to 1:250 000. Bruce Ott, Placer Development: Do you use any of the information avail-able from the Ministry of Forests and their forest cover maps. Answer:  Yes, we do.  We use all available information we can find. Bruce Ott, Placer Development: For some applications your maps would be more useful because the Forestry maps are a very large scale. Answer:  Yes that's true. Jack Thirgood, U.B.C.: One of the troubles in B.C. is the lack of communication. It is not generally known that certain information is available in certain parts of the province but not in others. Answer: Our information is published by the Provincial Government and it is all made available. A booklet is available which describes all of the information we have. Jack Thirgood, U.B.C.: But, if people don't know you are producing the booklet or gathering this information they won't use it. Answer: That is one of the reasons I'm here! But yes, you're right, we have done a poor job in communication. 271 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  Frank Pells, Brenda Mines: I'm amazed that this material has been studied and is available. Answer: That is unfortunate since we're in Kelowna and you're in Peachland! Unfortunately we haven't done any work on the Okanagan area yet; although we operate from Kelowna. Jeff Greene, LGL: I was wondering once you get to the point where you have species you feel are appropriate for different climatic zones, do you see yourself working with Fish and Wildlife to determine how critical certain species are to wildlife? Answer: Yes, a lot of our studies right now are with Fish and Wildlife in improving habitat. We've moved away from Forestry since they do their own studies. In the future we will be working mainly with Fish and Wildlife and with our own Assessment and Planning Branches. (Distorted recording of discussion on fertilizers between J. McDonald [MEMPR], John Dawson [Dawson Seed Co.], and Jack Thirgood [U.B.C.]). John Dawson, Dawson Seed Co.: I'd just like to add a comment or two about native species versus agronomics. Firstly, native species are becoming available, they may not be available in plenty as of today, but they are more available today than they were last year, and more last year than the year before. There's a lot of work being done on native species as demonstrated by Dr. Weijer from Alberta. Native species are being multiplied for specific use by one firm, Foothills Pipeline, which has considerable areas under-way. I think it also fair to consider that although certain agro-nomics will always be necessary in the mixture. Yes natives will volunteer and creep in, but probably a good argument could be made for inclusion of a native tree mix in your agronomic mixture to hasten the development of the final community. Jack Thirgood, U.B.C.: Well just a couple of points.  If you wait 30 or 40 years the natives may invade.  If you leave the land alone for 272 Proceedings of the 6th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium in Vernon, BC, 1982. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  30 or 40 years the natural vegetation may return. The whole purpose of revegetation however is to speed the process up. There is no use applying agronomics at the beginning if they are going to die off. Surely if you can start native vegetation from the outset and speed up the process that is better, since that is the whole purpose of the exercise. Otherwise, it we take nature's course we do nothing but just wait on nature. Bob Gardiner, Cominco Ltd.:  I think the obvious thing is that we still don't have all the answers. 273 

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