Evaluation of Reclamation Practices on Forested Upland and Peatland Well Sites

Bonnie Drozdowski, InnoTech Alberta Inc.


In general, regulators expect that disturbed sites in the boreal forest will undergo complete reclamation (recontouring, soil replacement and revegetation) with the goal of returning the site to pre-disturbance condition and land use (equivalent land capability). Legislation and policies provide opportunities to vary from these expectations with written approval from a specified decision maker (Director, Regulator, Land Manager). Alberta’s Wetland Policy requires replacement of wetlands lost due to industrial development, but recognizes that the relative value of a wetland (used to calculate replacement ratios) is based, in part, on the relative abundance of wetlands in the region. In areas of high abundance (such as northeast Alberta) and low historical loss, the concept of relative abundance will facilitate a considered approach to wetland management, balancing environmental, social, and economic priorities in the execution of management decisions.

The two specific instances of relevance to this project where a regulatory decision is needed are: (1) a request for a variance based on a site having natural vegetation encroachment rather than complete reclamation; and, (2) a request to leave well pads in peatlands in place.

Guidance Documents and Appendices:

Upland Forested Sites
2020 Guide to Variance Justifications 
2020 Case Studies 

Peatland Sites with Mineral Pads
2021 Numbered Decision Support Tool Figures
2020 Decision Framework and Support Tools
Recommendation Calculator

Background and Working Sessions Summary:
2019 Evaluation of Reclamation Practices on Upland and Peatland Wellsites
2020 Working Session Summary Report

2019 Event Presentation – May 2, 2019
2020 Update Presentation
2021 Knowledge Transfer Session – Event Recording
2021 Knowledge Transfer Session – Presentation Slides

Document Feedback:

Feedback is requested on the documents and case studies, the below forms have been developed for capturing feedback:

Review Mineral Soil Pads Review Upland Forested

Site Nomination Forms:

PTAC-AUPRF has provided funding to undertake field verification of the Stage 2A and 2B documents by: (1) obtaining input on the documents from a broader range of stakeholders, and (2) field testing the procedures described in the documents.

We are requesting industry partners to select sites that will provide a representative range of the key site deficiencies addressed in the Guide to Variance Justifications for forested upland sites and peatland sites. The following Site Selection Criteria will help identify appropriate sites initially, track progress in field verification, and assist in identifying alternate sites where initial sites cannot be assessed. Industry partners are requested to nominate sites using currently available site information and experience with other sites in their portfolios. Additional information on the site nomination process is provided in training sessions and associated recordings.   

Upland Site Nomination Form Peatland Site Nomination Form

Field Verification Training Sessions

Request Training