Algar Habitat Project: Improving Fen Restoration Outcomes

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Monitoring has been ongoing in Algar since 2011. Monitoring data along with supporting field observations information suggest that treatments may not be successfully placing linear disturbance within fens on a trajectory to restoration within the time frame anticipated or desired. The project for 2021 analyzed this through the capture of high-resolution data and a deep dive analysis into confirming this trend could be observed at other sites within Algar and attempt to further our understanding the cause(s) and effects of it, thereby identifying strategies to improve fen restoration outcomes.
For this analysis, we are using the criteria outlined in the Draft Provincial Restoration and Establishment Framework for Legacy Seismic Lines in Alberta (the Framework) to assess the status of fen sites within Algar. Poor fens appear to be on track to meet the targets outlined in the Framework for stocking. The results of the survey aligned with previous ground-based sampling that fens can meet the framework criteria but are challenged on many sites. Stocking levels were on average at the target minimums however only 57% percent of the surveyed segments were achieving the Framework criteria. The difference between rich fens and poor fens was only marginal suggesting alternative criteria or treatments may need to be considered for fen sites in general. The biggest challenge appears to be the difference in success rates at different line segments. Some sites have little to no growth of trees while
others are quite productive. Ensuring that the trees can be out of the water, have some structure to grow on, and are not overly outcompeted for light resources appear to all have an impact on site success. Further research in these areas may help improve fen site restoration prescriptions to achieve objectives.
Alternative requirements should be considered for linear restoration at fen sites. The Establishment Survey indicates acceptable success rates on some fen segments; however, it is still unclear why some sites are more successful than others. Restoration targets on rich fen sites might consider other vegetation criteria (not just trees) as indicators of site success.