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Forests 2019, 10(2), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/f10020185

Caribou Conservation: Restoring Trees on Seismic Lines in Alberta, Canada

1
Applied Conservation Ecology (ACE) Lab, Department of Renewable Resources, Faculty of Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2H1, Canada
2
Cenovus Energy, Calgary, AB T2P 0M5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 22 December 2018 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 18 February 2019 / Published: 20 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Forest Ecology and Management)
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Abstract

Seismic lines are narrow linear (~3–8 m wide) forest clearings that are used for petroleum exploration in Alberta’s boreal forest. Many seismic lines have experienced poor tree regeneration since initial disturbance, with most failures occurring in treed peatlands that are used by the threatened woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou). Extensive networks of seismic lines, which often reach densities of 40 km/km2, are thought to have contributed to declines in caribou. The reforestation of seismic lines is therefore a focus of conservation. Methods to reforest seismic lines are expensive (averaging $12,500 per km) with uncertainty of which seismic lines need which treatments, if any, resulting in inefficiencies in restoration actions. Here, we monitored the effectiveness of treatments on seismic lines as compared to untreated seismic lines and adjacent undisturbed reference stands for treed peatlands in northeast Alberta, Canada. Mechanical site preparation (mounding and ripping) increased tree density when compared to untreated lines, despite averaging 3.8-years since treatment (vs. 22 years since disturbance for untreated). Specifically, treated lines had, on average, 12,290 regenerating tree stems/ha, which is 1.6-times more than untreated lines (7680 stems/ha) and 1.5-times more than the adjacent undisturbed forest (8240 stems/ha). Using only mechanical site preparation, treated seismic lines consistently have more regenerating trees across all four ecosites, although the higher amounts of stems that were observed on treated poor fens are not significant when compared to untreated or adjacent undisturbed reference stands. View Full-Text
Keywords: tamarack; black spruce; seismic line; forest gap; boreal forest; woodland caribou; forest regeneration; silviculture; mechanical site preparation tamarack; black spruce; seismic line; forest gap; boreal forest; woodland caribou; forest regeneration; silviculture; mechanical site preparation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Filicetti, A.T.; Cody, M.; Nielsen, S.E. Caribou Conservation: Restoring Trees on Seismic Lines in Alberta, Canada. Forests 2019, 10, 185.

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