Unit 5 - Forest Protection

Lesson 6: Land Reclamation

Courtesy of Cenovus Energy Inc.

Land reclamation is an important component of forest protection.
Reclamation is the act of returning the land to a sustainable landscape; this must be equivalent to the pre-development state. Another way of saying this is "returning disturbed land to its original state."
Alberta law requires that all lands disturbed by oil sands operations be reclaimed, so once the oil or natural gas well is no longer productive, the operator is required to abandon the well and reclaim the site.
The reclamation process may involve monitoring, seeding, fertilizing, tree planting, seed collecting, topsoil salvaging and replacing, landform creation and contouring, to name a few.
Once the vegetation is mature and the landscape is self-sustaining, companies apply for a government reclamation certification so that the land can be returned to the Crown for public use.

Courtesy of Canada's Oil Sands Innovation Alliance -  cosia

Exploration and development of Alberta's oilsand gas deposits has had a significant environmental impact on Alberta's vast forests. In many forested areas, soil has been stripped away, and trees have been cut down in order to make room for equipment, wellsites, and other facilities. In fact, in some years and in some areas, the oil and gas industry in Alberta has harvested more trees than timber companies have.

Alberta's energy industry is required to repair any damages to the forest ecosystem.  If the industry disturbs the soil layer, they are required to restore the soil layer and replant native plants, shrubs, and trees.

                 Digging Deeper - Faster Forests

Prior to 2009, returning land to a functioning boreal ecosystem took decades. Then a number of studies were conducted out of the University of Alberta, to focus on understanding the factors affecting site recovery and recommended practices for reclamation.  A number of oil and gas companies took the recommendations from the studies and created Faster Forests, an aggressive reclamation pilot program.  The focus was to accelerate the reclamation process of areas that have been disturbed by oil sands exploration.
Read about Faster Forests and then watch the video on this unique program. 

Faster Forests

OSLI - Faster Forests Aug 21 from OSLI on Vimeo

If the above video will not play click here to view Faster Forests.