Is mounding contributing to the successful restoration of seismic lines in the in-situ oil and gas landscape in Alberta, Canada?

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Jaime Pinzon, Anna Dabros, Dani Degenhardt, Katalijn MacAfee

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The oil and gas exploration leaves a significant footprint on the landscape, predominantly in much of northern Alberta, where thousands of kilometers of seismic lines dissect various ecosystems throughout the boreal forest. In particular, treed peatlands are of interest, as natural recovery is minimal, having an important contribution to forest fragmentation. Efforts are in place for mitigating this footprint through human intervention, with the expectation that treatments will successfully restore disturbed sites. Mounding is a commonly used technique and the objective of this study is to assess early responses following treatment application and provide knowledge on whether it contributes to improving site conditions. Environmental and biodiversity data were collected from two areas in which mounding has been applied, with additional data from untreated sites and the adjacent undisturbed forest. Results show that mounding increased topography and influenced ground temperature and moisture, providing better conditions for natural regeneration and establishment of planted tree seedlings. In terms of biodiversity, mounding influenced species composition compared to untreated sites; however, assemblages in treated areas were also different from those typical of undisturbed conditions. Given the short time post-treatment at these sites (0-6 years), it is still too early to provide evidence of successful restoration, and therefore long-term monitoring is necessary to evaluate recovery trajectories and provide an assessment on whether this technique is effective for restoring linear disturbances. Nonetheless, these results are relevant as they contribute to a better understanding of short-term effects following mounding and inform the industry about restoration efforts.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program