British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Cost effective strategies for the restoration of mine sites Polster, David


Natural systems have been “restoring” naturally disturbed sites for millions of years. By understanding how these systems operate information on the trends and dynamics of change can be applied to human disturbances (e.g. mines and other industrial sites). The key is to identify the features of the site that are preventing the recovery, known as filters, and then look at how natural systems have solved these issues. Common filters at mines are steep slopes and compacted surfaces. The steep slopes can be resloped while compacted surfaces can be loosened to create microsites for seeds of pioneering species to grow. By creating conditions that address the filters that occur, natural processes will provide the appropriate species to restore the site. Native pioneering species have evolved effective means of spreading over large areas (e.g. cottonwood/willow fluff) and can therefore colonize large mine sites if suitable conditions are prepared. In addition, scattering woody debris on a rough and loose surface (100 m3/ha) creates conditions where birds (at no cost) will perch bringing with them the seeds of the fruit-bearing plants they have eaten. This creates a diversity of species on the site and a vegetation cover that is resilient. Natural processes can be used to restore a wide variety of sites.

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