British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Field protocol for assessing characteristic species thresholds in polygons on reclamation areas Futoransky, Vincent; Fuller, Robert; Donald, Gillian


The Guidelines for Reclamation to Forest Vegetation in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region 2nd Edition defines criteria and indicators to measure reclamation success. To compare community composition of reclaimed areas with that of target communities a threshold number of characteristic species typical of the target community was developed for five site types. CEMA funded a study to assess characteristic species thresholds on reclamation areas with three objectives: 1) develop a field protocol for assessing characteristic species thresholds; 2) collect species composition and distribution data; and 3) assess the utility of characteristic species thresholds as an indicator of reclamation success. The study sampled 98 plot locations within 16 reclaimed polygons within two oil sands operations north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. The study showed that a minimum of 4 plots should be established within polygons ≤ 6 ha and a plot number equivalent to the polygon area in hectares minus 2 for polygons between 6 and 13 ha. Six of the 16 polygons evaluated achieved the threshold number. The results suggest that reclamation polygons 15-19 years of age can have sufficient species composition to be evaluated using the methods outlined in the manual and can be considered to be successfully reclaimed with respect to this indicator.

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