Reference Plant Community Research for Mine Operations
Communities: Elk Valley, BC & northeastern regions
Dates: 2009 – Present
Description: Mine reclamation is a practice that has historically employed agronomic and exotic species for revegetation. KES has worked with members of the mining industry to encourage a shift in reclamation practices to a focus on indigenous plant species. Native plant species are well adapted to local climates, have resounding contributions to natural systems and local biodiversity, and support the growth of structurally complex plant communities.
Starting in 2009, KES has worked for select mine industry partners to document ecological communities of the Elk Valley, with a focus on early seral plant communities, non-forested ecosystems, and plant communities associated with disturbed sites (both natural and anthropogenic). In 2012, similar work was conducted by KES for mine operations in the Peace Region of Northeastern BC. For this research, results from field surveys capturing a wide range of ecosystems were analyzed with statistical software. This analysis provided an output of site type categories with attributed site conditions, such as elevation, exposure and soil traits, linked to specific indicator plant species. As well, a list of generalist species was developed, that were found to occur across a wide range of site types and conditions. By developing an understanding of intact plant communities and their site condition preferences, KES and their mine industry partners can better plan for successful reclamation of post-mine landscapes, and target the inclusion of species that are suited to the new post-mining conditions present.