Assisted Natural Recovery as a Preferred Revegetation Method

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Chris Tenszen

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Natural recovery is a great tool for revegetating natural areas, but often requires some assistance to help the process along. Generally, the goal in revegetating natural areas is getting cover and diversity of desirable species to restore ecosystem functions and build resilience. For this to happen, propagules must be brought to the site by a short list of vectors; namely people, wildlife, seedbank, parent plants, water, and wind. The competition for space in a receptive seedbed is a race to get as many desirable species as possible while the quality of the seedbed rapidly declines. So, where lies the balance between too little effort and too much effort in assisting natural recovery? In a perfect world, restoration would be like industrial-scale gardening with the care and attention of full-time attendees, but that level of effort is rarely possible due to cost and accessibility. This presentation is a review of several reclamation/restoration projects that used assisted natural recovery; looking at what worked, what didn’t work, and what might have worked. The project examples include disturbances from 1 hectare to 30 hectares in size that were reclaimed/restored to forests, peatlands, and mineral wetlands. Applicable conference themes: natural regeneration as a restoration strategy; restoration; reclamation and rewilding of oil, natural gas, and borrow pits; rehabilitation of severely degraded sites; restoration of temperate boreal forests; or standards of practice for restoration.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program