Cenovus LiDea Forest Restoration Project

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Caribou declines are related to anthropogenic disturbance in boreal forest, particularly in treed bog and fen habitat. Arrested succession, evidenced by slow and unpredictable return to forest cover following disturbance of wet site types, is apparent both in our legacy disturbances as well as references in the forest science and ecology literature. With the requirement to restore herd ranges to condition such that herds may be self-sustaining (Federal Caribou Recovery Strategy under SARA), time and space limits make slow and/or unpredictable return to forest cover a major management challenge. In the Cenovus LiDea project, we test the idea that active restoration using silviculture (site preparation, planting, and stand modification) may resolve arrested succession and address the basic mechanisms that lead to caribou decline. Early results suggest that conifer growth and survival, and volunteer woody ingress, are dramatically improved with this technique. Additionally, once linear features are treated for restoration, they are no longer used preferentially by large mammals. Cenovus Energy Inc. proposes to employ linear restoration techniques across a major proportion of the Cold Lake caribou herd range.