Sudbury, Ontario, Canada: 40+ years of healing and creating novel functional ecosytems on a smelter-impacted landscape

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Peter Beckett

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Sudbury houses major nickel mining and smelter complexes. The impacts of sulphur gases from roast yards before 1928 through to the more modern smelter operations emitting sulphur gases and metal particulates created a barren landscape of ca 17000 ha and an additional 64000 ha of stunted forest. The accumulation of bioavailable and potentially toxic metal levels in the acid surface soils, accompanied by soil erosion, lack of organic matter and soil nutrient depletion, impeded natural vegetation recovery.  The requirement for reduction of emissions (now 95%) from the largest smelter complex led to the construction of the 381 m Superstack employing gas and particle-capture technologies. The stage was set for an assisted landscape recovery program.  Over the past forty plus years the Sudbury Regreening Story, based on effective interaction between community, government, academia and industry, describes the regional transformational program now recognized globally as a model to emulate.  The Sudbury Protocol for technogenic barren landscape restoration has evolved from regreening activities that involved application of dolomitic limestone, fertilizer, seeding of agricultural grasses, legumes and planting of tree seedling to a more complete biodiverse restoration strategy.  By 2018, 3478 ha had received soil amelioration and ca 10 million trees and shrubs had been planted for approximately $32.7 million while employing over 4775 individuals. The outcome of the Regreening Program is a new image for the city and environs which has helped to attract new business enterprises, tourists and encouraged an increased respect for the environment.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program

Society for Ecological Restoration