Science-based Responsible Resource Development: Lessons Learned From Two Canadian Success Stories

Resource Type
R. Lapointe
David Langor
Anna Dabros
Brad Pinno
J. Spence
Matthew Pyper
K. Hirsch
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Most of Canada’s natural resource development (i.e., forestry, oil and gas, and mining activities) occurs in the boreal forest. These industrial activities lead to extensive land disturbances that have complex ecological effects on the boreal forest. To address this challenge, leaders in natural resource sectors have come together to create an interdisciplinary, science-based approach to manage resources in boreal Alberta, Canada. In 1997 the forest industry, the Canadian and Alberta governments, and several research organizations collaborated to build the Ecosystem Management Emulating Natural Disturbance (EMEND) partnership. EMEND supports a large-scale, long-term research project that fosters a sustainable ecosystem-based approach to boreal forest management. More recently, in response to a growing demand for better tools for managing forest restoration after oil sands extraction, the Canadian government began a land reclamation research program. Impacts of harvesting and reclamation treatments on forest regeneration, succession trajectories, biodiversity, nutrient cycling, and operational costs are being measured in these two initiatives. Lessons learned from both studies have been adopted operationally by the forest and oil sands industries to improve environmental performance, operational efficiencies, and market access. Through integrated and collaborative efforts, and the transparent use of science, Canada is demonstrating its commitment to the stewardship of its forests.