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British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Native grass seed development, 1975–2007 : challenges and results Vaartnou, Manivalde, 1947-


Sound ecological restoration of disturbed areas includes the use of native species in the herbaceous layer. In the last thirty years the use of native grasses has been recommended for Alaska, Washington State, the North-west Territories, Yukon Territory, Alberta and several locations in British Columbia. However, seed of grasses native to British Columbia, Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories has neither been available in sufficient quantity, nor at a reasonable price. Thus, since 1975, the author has been involved in several long-term programs to increase the availability of native grass seeds for restoration practitioners. This presentation discusses the major challenges that have been encountered, and summarizes the progress to date for north-west Canada, the pacific coast and the southern interior of British Columbia, respectively. Major challenges in native grass seed development can be grouped into three broad categories: development of suitable methodology; problems associated with plant biology; and the agricultural economics component that needs to be addressed and dealt with. The presentation covers what the specific challenges are within these broad categories, and how these have been resolved. Extensive progress has occurred in the last 32 years and the individual programs for northwest Canada, the pacific coast and the southern interior are at different stages in the developmental process. The presentation concludes with a summary of each program to date, and indicates what still needs to be done in each of the three areas prior to the commercial, large-scale availability of native grass seed for use in reclamation of disturbed areas such as mine sites; highway, hydro and pipeline corridors; and sites disturbed by activity in the forestry sector.

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