Bringing the Forest to the Office – How Virtual Tours are Informing Training and Decision Making Related to Restoration Approaches in the Oil Sands

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Matthew Pyper, Michael Cody, Katalijn MacAfee, Jack O’Neill

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Virtual reality isn’t just for video games anymore. This project sought to evaluate the utility of 360-degree imagery to develop educational and training modules about habitat restoration techniques being used in the oil sands region of Alberta, Canada. This project leveraged professional-quality 360° photos of restoration sites, either recently established or up to 10 years old. By bringing the forest to the office, the project’s goal was to showcase how modern techniques in forest restoration can help achieve environmental goals related to woodland caribou habitat restoration and oil sands compensation lakes. Students, operators and managers can all explore one of five virtual tours: lowland sites with surface roughness applied, linear restoration sites, planting on upland and lowland sites, interim reclamation of soil storage piles, and oil sands compensation lakes. In addition to these virtual tours, the project houses the recently completed Silviculture Toolkit developed through a collaboration between Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) and Natural Resources Canada. Results of the project indicate that these virtual tools have wide applicability in university education and in training professionals to adopt new and innovative restoration practices. This presentation will showcase why the virtual tours were established, data supporting the use and uptake of the tours, and will discuss how virtual tours like this can be used by universities, governments and industry organizations around the world to drive innovation and quality treatment delivery in reclamation and restoration programs.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program