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BUILDING ON DIVERSE ALBERTA CENTRE FOR EXPERTISE RECLAMATION AND RESTORATION ECOLOGY (ACRRE) •

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The proposed Alberta Centre for Reclamation and Restoration Ecology – ACRRE – aims to build on the diverse expertise of University of Alberta researchers to establish a global hub for reclamation and restoration research, training and outreach. In the following pages we have highlighted just a few of the research teams that are developing solutions for the reclamation and restoration of highly disturbed sites. We encourage you to read through these profiles, review our message from the Chair and consider partnering with the University of Alberta in this exciting initiative. 1

ALBERTA CENTRE FOR RECLAMATION AND RESTORATION ECOLOGY (ACRRE)


Designing resilient forests on reclaimed lands Dr. Simon Landhäusser

Dr. Simon Landhäusser’s research focuses on the role of trees in the rebuilding of disturbed ecosystems. In particular, his team focuses on aspen, which can reproduce from its spreading root system and stimulates forest floor development through its annual leaf litter. He is also studying the long-term water requirements of forests on reclaimed landscapes, and is testing the role of site preparation, planting density and other techniques on the longterm viability of these forests. Simon is recognized for his ability to develop operational applications and has already contributed to “game changing” technologies for developing aspen seedlings.

Simon’s team is also: • ‘Hiding’ nutrients so they are available to trees rather than weedy species • Using ‘islands’ of forest floor material to help establish native forest understory species in reclaimed sites, while maximizing use of this limited resource • Constructing reclaimed forests that have the water they require for long-term growth, while ensuring water availability for the surrounding landscape

Increasing the planting density of trees promotes canopy development, but is there a limit to the number of trees a reclaimed landscape can support?

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA, FACULTY OF AGRICULTURAL, LIFE & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

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Testing the long-term feasibility of end pit lakes Dr. Tariq Siddique

We’re explaining the chemical and biological processes occurring in tailings ponds so industry can develop effective treatment strategies.

Dr. Tariq Siddique and his colleagues are examining end pit lakes as a final stage in the reclamation of tailings ponds. His team focuses on fundamental chemical and biological processes and aims to understand and predict how the components of tailings will react, disperse and settle. Specifically, they are looking at how microbial organisms digest residual hydrocarbons in mature fine tailings, and how this process might affect the quality of the overlying cap water in end pit lakes. Tariq researches the complete spectrum of environmental concerns related to

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ALBERTA CENTRE FOR RECLAMATION AND RESTORATION ECOLOGY (ACRRE)

oil sands tailings and has contributed important breakthroughs to the field. Tariq’s team is also: • Complementing industry research on acid rock drainage with controlled laboratory experiments • Increasing water recovery from oil sands tailings by ‘feeding’ microbes agricultural by-products • Modeling greenhouse gas emissions from tailings ponds


Rebooting soil processes

Dr. Sylvie Quideau

Dr. Sylvie Quideau is investigating how natural and reclaimed soils function, in order to restore the soil processes that ecosystems depend on. Her team is developing indicators of reclamation success by determining appropriate benchmarks for nutrient cycling and biodiversity in reclaimed soils.

and is helping us to better understand the long-term viability of reclaimed soils.

One of their key methods uses stable isotopes to track nutrients as they flow from newly established plants into the soil communities and back to the plants, in order to determine that sustainable nutrient cycling has been restored.

• Monitoring the movement of water and the retention of nutrients in sandy soils where the two are in short supply

Sylvie’s research is creating knowledge of soil functioning in natural landscapes,

Sylvie’s team is also: • Studying how planting a mixture of species or applying native forest floor material to reclaimed sites can help reboot soil processes

We can’t rebuild the soils EXACTLY the way they were before mining, so we focus on the way they function, instead of what they look like.

• Determining how changes in vegetation affect soil carbon storage and how this might be influenced by climate change

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA, FACULTY OF AGRICULTURAL, LIFE & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

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Using waste to develop soils and plant communities Dr. M. Anne Naeth

Land reclamation provides the perfect opportunity to use materials for soil building and plant community development that would otherwise end up in landfills.

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Dr. M. Anne Naeth is working on innovative, cost effective ways to build soil for the establishment of vegetation on reclamation sites. Her team is investigating the effectiveness of using on-site waste materials – such as processed kimberlite, mine tailings and municipal solid waste – to enhance degraded soil. Anne is an experienced researcher with a large team of graduate students addressing a wide variety of challenges in land reclamation and restoration associated with the mining (diamonds, coal, metals) and the oil and gas sector.

ALBERTA CENTRE FOR RECLAMATION AND RESTORATION ECOLOGY (ACRRE)

Anne’s team is also: • Re-introducing native plant communities through innovative use of forest floor material (LFH) and woody debris • Working in the sub-arctic tundra to build soils and reintroduce moss and lichen communities as first steps in ecological restoration • Studying bioremediation of contaminated soils to reduce the need to store them in contaminated waste sites


Understanding natural and anthropogenic sources of heavy metals in the Athabasca River Dr. WILLIAM Shotyk

Dr. William Shotyk has studied environmental contamination in nearly every part of the northern hemisphere, and is now applying his expertise to the air, soils and waterways of Alberta. Using innovative techniques and a world class clean lab, his team is investigating heavy metals in the Lower Athabasca River and determining how much, in what form, and from which source they have originated. Bill prides himself on his ability to assemble highly effective, multidisciplinary research teams and is putting these teams to work in the new Soils, Water, Air, Manure and Plants (SWAMP) clean lab at the U of A.

Bill’s team is also: • Calculating background levels of dust deposition prior to industrialization to create a baseline from which we can monitor change • Distinguishing between locally-derived metals, primarily from mineral dust particles, and metals that have traveled long distances from sources such as incinerators, coal-fired power stations, or smelters • Studying moss and peat as archives of heavy metal deposition from natural and anthropogenic sources

By understanding natural chemical cycling and geology we can tease apart what concentrations of elements are naturally occurring and what portions come from human sources.

UNIVERSITY UNIVERSITY OF OF ALBERTA, ALBERTA, FACULTY FACULTY OF OF AGRICULTURAL, AGRICULTURAL, LIFE LIFE & & ENVIRONMENTAL ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES SCIENCES

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Prioritizing restoration efforts Dr. Scott Nielsen

If you have limited restoration and conservation dollars, where should you spend them?

Dr. Scott Nielsen is developing sciencebased tools that help managers prioritize restoration efforts in areas that provide the greatest ecological benefit, for the lowest possible cost. With a focus on restoration of legacy well pads and seismic lines, his team of students uses LiDAR imagery, rare species data, bitumen value, cost of restoration/km and many more factors to produce landscape scale plans that achieve the greatest conservation impact, within a specified budget. Scott’s approach considers social and economic factors as well as conservation values, and his research is helping conserve Alberta’s natural biodiversity.

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ALBERTA CENTRE FOR RECLAMATION AND RESTORATION ECOLOGY (ACRRE)

Scott’s team is also: • Creating maps and models that will help inform efficient conservation planning • Predicting habitats where rare plants may be located in order to streamline operational planning and conserve important habitats • Investigating grizzly bear habitat enhancements, such as thinning mature forest stands or planting fruiting shrubs as part of forest regeneration plans


Designing an effective conservation offset system Dr. Vic Adamowicz

Dr. Vic Adamowicz is a resource economist whose work is informing the conservation offset discussion in Alberta. He is examining the public acceptance of conservation offsets, the challenges of offset design on private and public lands, and the design of an efficient regulatory framework to support an offset system. His research integrates economic, social and environmental values to predict how individuals, companies, and the economy as a whole, will respond to different regulatory and incentive systems. Vic is widely respected for his research on ecosystem services and has been instrumental in helping to integrate

environmental values into land use decisions. Vic’s team is also: • Identifying the most cost effective way to achieve conservation objectives for caribou and other threatened species • Integrating multiple services - such as wetlands, carbon and habitat for endangered species - into environmental valuation

By conducting economic analyses of different offset systems, we can understand the benefits and costs of various options.

• Comparing the economic value of the ecosystem services arising from different forest and resource management alternatives UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA, FACULTY OF AGRICULTURAL, LIFE & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

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Linking indigenous and scientific knowledge to better understand ecological changes Dr. Brenda Parlee

There is little scientific data about caribou prior to the 1950’s, but indigenous people have been systematically monitoring them for generations.

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Dr. Brenda Parlee’s team of researchers, and network of community knowledge keepers, is bringing together First Nations traditional knowledge and scientific data to understand the impact of development on northern ecosystems and communities.

Brenda’s community-based approach to the study of ecological changes resulting from resource development is creating a collaborative learning environment in place of conflict and criticism.

Her team is linking oral histories from Dene elders with trample scar data from tundra tree roots. This information is then used to map patterns of caribou movements and will help tease apart changes that have occurred in the last 150 years.

• Studying the challenges of a multijurisdictional approach to managing resource development

ALBERTA CENTRE FOR RECLAMATION AND RESTORATION ECOLOGY (ACRRE)

Brenda’s team is also:

• Working with a circumpolar research network that includes Greenland, Russia, Alaska and Europe


Diverse Expertise The challenges of reclaiming industrial sites are diverse, and so are the researchers dedicated to the development of solutions in this field. The following individuals are each leading a highly-qualified team of technicians and graduate students, and are helping to build ACRRE at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Vic Adamowicz - Environmental and Resource Economics, Applied Econometrics Dr. Glen Armstrong - Forest Management Dr. Erin Bayne - Conservation Biology Dr. Edward Bork - Mattheis Chair. Rangeland Ecology and Management Dr. Stan Boutin - Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chair. Conservation Biology Dr. Peter Boxall - Environmental and Resource Economics Dr. Cameron Carlyle - Rangeland Ecology Dr. Scott Chang - Forest Soils and Nutrient Dynamics Dr. Evan Davies - Water Resources Engineering Dr. Miles Dyck - Soil Transport Processes in Managed and Reconstructed Ecosystems Dr. Nadir Erbilgin - Canada Research Chair. Forest Entomology and Chemical Ecology Dr. Robert Grant - Ecosystem Modeling

Dr. Lars Hallstrom - Environmental and Social Policy Dr. Glynnis Hood - Wetland Ecology Dr. Simon Landh채usser - NSERC Industrial Chair. Forest Land Reclamation and Applied Forest Ecology Dr. Victor Lieffers - Silviculture and Forest Ecology Dr. Marty Luckert - Forest Economics, Natural Resource Economics Dr. S. Ellen Macdonald - Forest Ecology and Plant Biodiversity Dr. M. Derek MacKenzie - Soil-Plant Relations Dr. Carl Mendoza - Wetland Hydrology and Reclamation Dr. M. Anne Naeth - Land Reclamation and Restoration Ecology Dr. Scott Nielsen - Alberta Biodiversity Conservation Chair. Conservation Biology Dr. David Olefeldt - Wetland Ecology

Dr. Brenda Parlee - Canada Research Chair. Social Responses to Ecological Change Dr. Mark Poesch - Conservation Ecology Dr. Sylvie Quideau - Soil Biogeochemistry Dr. Fiona Schmiegelow - Wildlife and Landscape Ecology; Conservation Science Dr. William Shotyk - Agriculture and the Environment Dr. Tariq Siddique - Soil Chemistry and Environmental Microbiology Dr. Uldis Silins - Forest Hydrology and Watershed Management Dr. Emilson Silva - Environmental and Energy Policy Dr. Vincent L. St. Louis - Hydrology and Pollution Biology Dr. Barb Thomas - NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Tree Improvement Dr. Janusz Zwiazek - Plant Physiology

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA, FACULTY OF AGRICULTURAL, LIFE & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

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Researchers Tapping into global expertise – The Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative ACRRE researchers are tapping into scientific capacity and expertise across the globe through the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative (HAI). HAI is a collaboration between the University of Alberta and four German Research Institutes, and is an example of the type of international network of researchers that ACRRE strives to achieve. The goal is to provide knowledge, innovative technologies and system solutions that will enable environmentally sound and energyefficient development of fossil fuels and renewable resources.

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After only three years, this collaboration has many achievements:

• Scientific protocols and techniques developed in Germany have been shared with Canadian students

• An annual science forum has facilitated knowledge sharing between Canada and Germany

• ACRRE researchers have had the opportunity to train graduate students residing in Germany Through opportunities like HAI, ACRRE will continue to build international teams and leverage global expertise for the advancement of reclamation and restoration ecology.

• Graduate student funding is fueling the scientific endeavors of ACRRE researchers and training the next generation of reclamation experts • Students and faculty have been exposed to both Canadian and German land reclamation practices

ALBERTA CENTRE FOR RECLAMATION AND RESTORATION ECOLOGY (ACRRE)


Researchers Partnering for success - The Alberta Biodiversity Research Chairs Program The reclamation and restoration of Canada’s boreal forest is a multi-faceted and challenging issue. It requires collaboration between multiple scientific disciplines, drawing on support from academia, industry and government. The establishment of the Alberta Biodiversity Research Chairs Program (ABC) is an excellent example of one such partnership, and highlights the progress that can be made when great minds and great organizations come together.

Dr. Stan Boutin and Dr. Scott Nielsen, two University of Alberta researchers, were selected as the ABC Chairs and are working with industry and other scientists to develop new methods and tools to monitor and restore biodiversity and landscape processes. Their research will link monitoring programs to policy development and strategic planning – leading to an applied, scientifically-robust conservation effort.

The ABC Program is intended to fast-track biodiversity science and is a partnership between: the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA); University of Alberta; Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, Energy and Environment Solutions; and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). It is a clear example of the power of collaboration, and an example that we hope to build on through ACRRE.

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA, FACULTY OF AGRICULTURAL, LIFE & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

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Our vision for ACRRE: • Establish Endowed Chair positions to increase research capacity in key areas • Expand collaborations within Alberta and create more national and international collaborations • Create new graduate student scholarships to attract the brightest minds • Develop workshops, forums and extension publications to convey key findings • Deliver professional development programs for reclamation practitioners 13

ALBERTA CENTRE FOR RECLAMATION AND RESTORATION ECOLOGY (ACRRE)


MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR As you have now seen, the University of Alberta has a talented group of researchers and students committed to reclamation and restoration research. With further support, the University of Alberta could be the go-to-place for reclamation and restoration research, training and outreach and expand its national and international status. The Alberta Centre for Reclamation and Restoration Ecology provides a framework for such an initiative. With your support we can: address current challenges, develop strategies and create the knowledge required for resource

development that is economically, socially and environmentally responsible. Your support will also help us attract bright and enthusiastic students to our undergraduate and graduate programs, helping us to train the next generation of resource managers. It will allow us to expand the transfer of the knowledge that we gain through workshops, short courses and distance delivery.

ecosystems and all of the services that they provide. We invite you to partner with ACRRE today. Sincerely,

Together, we can make ACRRE an institution that demonstrates to the world that the Canadian resource extraction industry, the province of Alberta and the government of Canada are working together and are committed to sustaining healthy

Dr. Victor Lieffers Department Chair Renewable Resources

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA, FACULTY OF AGRICULTURAL, LIFE & ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

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FIND OUT MORE To make a donation of for more information, please contact: Ken Crocker Assistant Dean, Development 780-492-1896 Ken.crocker@ualberta.ca acrre.ualberta.ca

ACRRE - Building on Diverse Expertise  

The proposed Alberta Centre for Reclamation and Restoration Ecology – ACRRE – aims to build on the diverse expertise of University of Albert...

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