The landscape of northeastern Alberta is a perpetual hot topic. Dotted with wellsites, split by pipelines, criss-crossed with seismic lines, and reshaped by forest fires, not to mention the controversial oil sands. As contentious as it is, this area of Alberta is also a perpetual learning ground and a hotbed of research. A multitude of stakeholders and land uses generate cumulative impacts, but also generate valuable opportunities for collaboration and research opportunities. Solstice recently participated in just such a collaborative research project, managed by Circle T Consulting, Inc, in the area south of Fort McMurray. Member companies of the Canada Oil Sands Innovation Alliance in the region participate in an oil sands exploration (OSE) wellsite reclamation program called Faster Forests, which provides guidance on wellsite construction and also tree and shrub planting practices intended to accelerate forest recovery. For more information, check out the links below. This summer Solstice collected vegetation and soil data from a number of both planted and unplanted OSE wellsites in order to quantitatively assess the success of the Faster Forests program. The intent is to identify if and under what conditions tree and shrub planting is most valuable, in order to ensure the program is as cost effective and efficient as possible. The data collected was much like a detailed site assessment, but designed with the intention of assessing and improving the reclamation program as part of COSIA’s commitment to continuous improvements in environmental performance. In an area where forestry and oil and gas can overlap, the construction and reclamation practices of one company can directly impact the bottom line of another company. Historically, the impacts of various OSE wellsite construction and reclamation practices have been studied in the region which has highlighted the value of ice pads and proper woody debris handling practices (for more information, see the link below). The results of this research also highlighted the value of training and supervision by an environmental professional during construction and reclamation activities. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so to speak, particularly in areas of competing land uses. Solstice has the experience and skills to supervise and train construction and reclamation activities, and a commitment to collaboration to ensure the efficient and successful completion of projects with competing land uses.
COSIA Faster Forests: http://www.cosia.ca/faster-forests
ConocoPhillips Faster Forests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU7RLqz1Z3Q
Catrina Duffy, B.Sc., P.Ag.
Project Manager / Technical Advisor Environmental Scientist
Solstice Canada Corp.