An ecosystem-based planning and implementation process to support landscape-scale reclamation Straker, J.; Charest, D.; Baker, T.; Anderson, J.
Teck Resources operates four active coal mines in southeast B.C., and is in the process of closing and reclaiming a fifth. There is a strong emphasis on reclamation in the operations and closure of these mines, to support achievement of Teck’s biodiversity net positive impact and nature-positive commitments. Teck measures progress towards these commitments in part using a Vegetation Quality Assessment framework, which compares area and quality of different ecosystem types in the current and future reclaimed landscape to those of reference (benchmark or pre-mining) conditions. Delineating and identifying ecosystem types in reference conditions is straightforward, and based on a robust knowledge base of ecosystem mapping and classification in B.C., but ecosystem delineation and identification is challenging in the reclaimed landscape, as its materials and ecosystems are not addressed by approaches developed for less disturbed systems. To support this task, Teck has adopted the use of an ecohydrological modelling tool for reclamation planning and implementation. This tool uses input data on climate, topography, and rooting-zone materials of reclaimed sites to estimate edaphic conditions—and probable associated ecosystems—based primarily on soil moisture regime, and secondarily on soil nutrient regime. This approach is first deployed in the planning phase—using designed topography and a database of known properties of surficial materials—to estimate ecosystem occurrence and to develop corresponding revegetation treatments. It is subsequently used after resloping, site preparation, and placement of any additional cover materials to verify as-built conditions and to confirm or adjust the design-level ecosystem estimate. Data collected through Teck’s monitoring programs allows assessment of reclamation performance for different ecosystem types. This paper describes Teck’s current ecohydrological planning, implementation, and monitoring process for reclaimed sites, and suggests next steps for further development of a more comprehensive reclamation framework.
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