Developing protocols and capacity for northern restoration with local native plants

Development of cost effective amendment technologies and restoration protocols for remediation and restoration of mine impacted sites is strongly needed in northern Canada. One of the first steps in developing successful restoration protocols is to determine and development appropriate local native plant species and soil amendments.

Project Overview

The objective of this research project was to determine target plant species and techniques for the restoration of a northern mine impacted site. Determination of target plant species included surveys of natural regeneration of existing disturbed areas and creation of a seed source map for target species.  By working with Tr'ondek Hwech'in elders both scientific and traditional ecological knowledge was included in the final seed source map product, creating a resource for both industry and the local community.  Site-specific restoration techniques were examined through re-vegetation and soil amendment trials on drilling fences and a nitrogen-fixing species greenhouse trial.

In addition to providing important information for future mine site restoration; this project provided a unique approach to integrating research and education to simultaneously build scientific knowledge and local capacity.  The research project was developed concurrently with a 12 day education course (Northern Terrestrial Restoration) offered through a collaboration between the Yukon Research Centre and the Centre for Northern Innovation in Mining at Yukon College. This course was delivered on-site with support from Kaminak Gold Corporation.  The Northern Terrestrial Restoration course offered local First Nations students the opportunity to gain research experience in experimental design, field sampling techniques, as well as, native seed collection, preparation and storage providing a foundation for future local community involvement in restoration and horticulture of native plants. Through directly integrating research and education we aim to take the first steps in not only identifying, preserving and testing materials for restoration of the Coffee Gold Project, but also in determining effective restoration protocols and building capacity for native plant horticulture in Yukon communities.

Project team and funders
Katherine Stewart, Primary researcher 
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Yukon Mine Research Consortium (YMRC): Alexco Environmental Group, Capstone Mining Corp, Casino Mining Corp, Selwyn Chihong Ltd. and Victoria Gold Corp.