Long-term evaluation of methods for rehabilitiation of lands disturbed by industrial development in the Arctic

M. T. Jorgenson, J, G. Kidd, T. C. Cater, S. Bishop, and C. H. Racine. 2003. Long-term evaluation of methods for rehabilitiation of lands disturbed by industrial development in the Arctic. Pp. 173–190 in Social and environmental impacts in the north: methods in evaluation of socio-economic and environmental consequences of mining and energy production in the Arctic and Subarctic, R. O. Rasmussen and N. E. Koroleva, eds. Kluwer Academic Publications.DOI: 10.1007/978-94-007-1054-2_13

Abstract:

Rehabilitation of disturbed lands in the Arctic must overcome many limitations imposed by the severe environment, but research since the 1970’s has shown that a wide range of techniques can be used to create or restore productive, diverse, and self-sustaining plant communities. In this paper, we focus on the results of rehabilitation of sites disturbed by the placement of gravel fill, the most widespread disturbance type in arctic Alaska. On thick gravel fill, seeding of indigenous legumes and native grasses is the most successful technique creating productive and self-sustaining plant communities, although species composition does not resemble that of the original tundra. On sites where gravel has been completely or partially removed, natural colonization (with or without added fertilizer), seeding of native grass cultivars or indigenous sedges, and transplanting of tundra plugs all resulted in similar rates of vegetation recovery. Vascular plant cover reached levels similar to those in adjacent moist and wet tundra after 15–25 years. While gravel removal is the most effective way to restore tundra wetlands, its use will be limited by high costs. For trails and other less severe tundra disturbances, natural colonization is generally the preferred approach to rehabilitation.

 

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