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Let Nature do the Work: Restoration of Drastically Disturbed Sites

About this Event

Natural systems have been ‘restoring’ disturbed sites (landslides, volcanic eruptions, shoreline erosion, etc.) for millions of years. By understanding how these natural systems operate they can be applied to sites humans disturb (mines, industrial developments, etc.). Natural systems initiate recovery using pioneering species such as Willows (Salix spp.), Balsam Poplar (Populus balsamifera L.) or Alder (Alnus spp.). The seeds of these species are designed to travel long distances and use commonly occurring conditions to get established. Balsam Poplar and Willows have light fluffy seeds that at some times of the year look like snow. They land on puddles or other waterbodies and are blown to the wet mud at the edges of the puddle or on the shore of the waterbody where they germinate and grow. By creating these conditions (making puddles) on a mine site these species can be encouraged to establish on sites that are being reclaimed at no cost. Making mining disturbances rough and loose creates puddles and addresses the compaction that is associated with many mine sites. Similarly, birds can carry the scarified seeds of fruit bearing plants long distances depositing these on mine sites if they are given places perch by scattering woody debris. This allows the fruit bearing plants to establish on the mine site. The cost of these treatments are a fraction of traditional reclamation costs and because the resulting vegetation is appropriate to the area and the site where it establishes, natural processes can provide effective strategies for the reclamation of mining disturbances. Examples are drawn from the author’s experience.

Who should attend and why?

Mining company people and others involved with the restoration of large sites.

Presenter:

David F. Polster, is a plant ecologist with over 40 years of experience in vegetation studies, ecological restoration and invasive species management. He graduated from the University of Victoria with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in 1975 and a Master of Science degree in 1977. He has developed a wide variety of restoration techniques for mines, industrial developments and steep/unstable slopes as well as techniques for the re-establishment of riparian and aquatic habitats. He is the past-president (third term) of the Canadian Land Reclamation Association. He is the treasurer for the Western Canada Chapter of the Society for Ecological Restoration and was the NW Regional Representative on the board of the international Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). He was recently awarded the prestigious John Rieger Award from SER. He served as the alternate mining representative on the board of the Invasive Species Council of B.C. for 9 years. He recently became a Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner.

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