As a leader in providing resource management solutions, the University of Alberta offers:
- Award-winning research expertise in reclamation and restoration ecology across the natural and social sciences.
- A strong record of collaboration with researchers from across Canada and around the world.
- A proven history of effective partnerships with industry and government.
ACRRE is a community of diverse expertise in all areas of land reclamation and restoration. We have highlighted below a small selection of key questions being addressed by ACRRE researchers. Click here for a list of All Our Researchers.
One ACRRE research team is examining how microbial activity affects the long-term feasibility of end pit lakes for the reclamation of tailings ponds. They are focusing on fundamental biogeochemical processes and can predict how the components of tailings will react, disperse and settle. Their long-term laboratory studies are looking at how microbial metabolism of residual hydrocarbons in the underlying mature fine tailings might affect the quality of overlying cap water in end pit lakes. The results will help construct models to predict feasibility and future sustainability of end pit lakes after their construction.
ACRRE researchers are investigating how natural and reclaimed soils function, so that we can restore the soil processes that ecosystems depend on. These researchers are developing indicators of reclamation success by determining appropriate benchmarks for nutrient cycling and biodiversity in reclaimed soils. One of their key methods for doing this uses isotopes to track nutrients introduced to the soil ecosystem by newly established plants, and follows the cycling of these nutrients through the diverse soil community and back to the plants.
For ACRRE researchers, curiosity and collaboration are essential for building an understanding of how reclaimed forests will function for years to come. In researching this key question, they focus on how trees can help rebuild soil processes, how we can develop seedlings that outcompete other vegetation on reclaimed sites and how water may be a limiting factor in the future success of reclaimed forests.
ACRRE researchers are working to develop science-based 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, a team of researchers 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.
Economics & Policy
ACRRE’s respected resource economists are informing the conservation offset discussion with tangible data on the environmental and economic impacts of different regulatory options. They are researching the public acceptance of offsets, the challenges of offset design on private and public lands, and an efficient regulatory framework to support an offset system.
Community based research is bridging the gap between oral histories and scientific data about caribou populations. In one study, ACRRE researchers are using trample scars on tree roots to determine historic caribou numbers and migrations as far back as 150 years and linking this information with oral histories passed down through several generations. Their results will help distinguish the role of diamond mine disturbance from the natural 40 year population cycles that these caribou herds experience.