NAIT names applied research chair in boreal reclamation and reforestation
Dr. Amanda Schoonmaker begins new role July 2
PEACE RIVER, AB – Dr. Amanda Schoonmaker (pictured above) is leading applied research at NAIT to help industry return thousands of former oil and gas well sites to their natural state.
Schoonmaker has been named NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges (IRCC) in Boreal Reclamation and Reforestation. Schoonmaker, who has worked as a research coordinator at the NAIT Boreal Research Institute for four years, takes on her new role July 2.
In Alberta, oil and gas companies are responsible for reclaiming well sites that have reached the end of their lifespan. These sites must meet or exceed criteria set by the provincial government including establishment of woody trees and shrubs that are compatible with the surrounding landscape. Schoonmaker and her team will develop practical techniques that can be used in these large-scale reclamation projects. This hands-on research will be valuable not only for oil and gas companies, but also forest product companies and small to medium-sized companies involved in reclamation work.
The position is funded through a $1-million grant from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Research funding is also provided through Shell Canada Ltd. and ConocoPhillips, with additional support from BonaVista Energy, PennWest Exploration, Daishowa-Marubeni International Ltd., and Manning Diversified Forest Products Ltd.
Schoonmaker becomes the second NSERC research chair at the NAIT Boreal Research Institute, joining Dr. Bin Xu, NSERC Research Chair in Peatland Restoration, whose research is focused on the restoration of peatland ecosystems.
• The NAIT Boreal Research Institute (NBRI), located in Peace River, was established in 1995.
• The NBRI research facility includes a greenhouse, soils laboratory, chemistry laboratory and office space for a 12 member team.
• There are approximately 15,000 well sites in Alberta’s northwest boreal region that have completed their commercial lifespan and require reclamation.
• Significant conventional oil and gas activity and 100% of in situ bitumen extraction take place on Crown lands which are forested.
Dr. Amanda Schoonmaker, NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges (IRCC) in Boreal Reclamation and Reforestation
“There is a greater regulatory responsibility on industry to reclaim former oil and gas well sites and related disturbances. Working with our industry partners, we’re finding the most effective ways to achieve this.”
Dr. Forrest Tittle, dean of the School of Sustainable Building and Environmental Management
“This NSERC grant further establishes the NAIT Boreal Research Institute as a leader in forest reclamation applied research. This is an important milestone for NAIT considering we hold NSERC Industrial Research Chairs in peatland restoration and, now, forest-related research”.
Images to accompany this story are available for download at www.flickr.com/nait
NAIT Boreal Research Institute
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and trades. With nearly 60,000 credit and non-credit students and a 95 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads are essential to Alberta’s prosperity. Known for hands-on, technology-based learning, NAIT engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. Recognized as one of Alberta’s top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.