A new centre being proposed to develop innovative approaches to reclaim and restore disturbed ecosystems gave representatives of Alberta’s forest and energy industries a sneak peek at what could be at its inaugural event earlier this month at the U of A Calgary Centre.
Three prominent researchers associated with the Alberta Centre for Reclamation and Restoration Ecologyeach gave a presentation on vital conservation issues industry and government are faced with every day.
Simon Landhausser, the NSERC/COSIA/TransAlta Industrial Research Chair in Forest Land Reclamation, discussed new methods of evaluating tree seedling stock that will be most suitable for reclamation.
William Shotyk, the Bocock Chair for Agriculture and the Environment, explained his research on the very low concentrations of heavy metal emissions found in moss near the Athabasca oilsands.
The presentations, as well as the poster presentation from graduate students, received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the industry and government representatives.
If established, practical research findings from University of Alberta researchers affiliated with ACRRE would be shared more formally and consistently with decision makers in industry and government.
“It would be useful to have a cohesive approach to knowledge exchange,” said Vic Adamowicz, vice-dean of the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences and a researcher associated with ACRRE. “From industry and government’s perspective it would help them, knowing where to go to find this information.”
In addition to making knowledge exchange easier and more efficient, a formalized and resourced ACRRE would fulfil several other important objectives, he said. It could create more opportunities to link the research community in collaborative projects, foster more interdisciplinary research, and enhance the training of grad students and postdoctoral fellows.
ACRRE would be the only such centre for reclamation and restoration in Canada. Ideally it could become a global hub for research, training and outreach.
Another session, to be held in Edmonton, is in the planning stage. The next step, said Adamowicz, is to attract solid funding for the initiative. The first meeting was supported by four research partners besides the U of A, including the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Land Reclamation Association, the Oil Sands Research and Information Network and BARR Engineering.