Development and evaluation of an integrated modeling approach for a risk analysis of alternative Oil Sands reclamation strategies

Considerable information has been acquired on soil dynamics in areas under oil sands reclamation and a variety of models have been developed that simulate moisture dynamics and ecosystem productivity. However, to date, nutrient and moisture dynamics have been considered largely in isolation; for models to be useful in reclamation, they need to be capable of representing how soil moisture influences nutrient cycling, how available moisture limits vegetation growth and how ecosystem development can change nutrient cycles and moisture dynamics. In this project with FORRX Consulting, the FORECAST model will be calibrated with available data to simulate the soil conditions and the combination of plants and trees to get back a productive forest in the reclaimed sites under different climates. FORECAST is used to simulate the effect of different nutrient and moisture conditions on tree growth, to find the optimum combination of fertilization, soil type and plant and tree species most likely to develop in the target forest. Results of this research will provide guidelines for the companies to get certified reclamation plans.

Juan A. Blanco
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. James P. Kimmins
British Columbia