Land Management and Restoration

Sectors based on natural resources contribute to half of Canada’s exports and are significant economic contributors, creating value and supply chains that cascade throughout the rest of the economy.

Alberta is central to the nation’s opportunity for providing long-term, reliable, and environmentally managed sources of energy for the global marketplace.

We are focused on strengthening Alberta’s and Canada’s natural resources sectors and the industries that support them.

Learn more about the NAIT applied research centres doing work in this area:

Forest reclamation

Canada’s boreal forest is of global economic significance, containing timber resources, conventional oil and gas, and in situ and surface minable oilsands.

The boreal forest is increasingly fragmented due to the cumulative effects of these industrial disturbances.

Reclamation and reforestation of Alberta’s boreal forest is vital to the forest’s long-term health. It supports the use of this resource for other purposes, including timber, mineral and energy resources. 

Learn how NAIT is working in partnership with industry and communities to develop cost-effective methods, technologies, and best practices to support reforestation activities:

Forest reclamation follows nature’s blueprint
Temporary forests flourish faster
NAIT and industry partners use innovative approaches to reclaim boreal forests, peatlands
NAIT to develop virtual training to help remote First Nations communities remediate boreal forest
The growing cost to clean up abandoned and orphaned wells

Forest management

Alberta’s fibre supply is under pressure from a variety of factors, including mountain pine beetle outbreaks, wildfire, wildlife habitat requirements, and other land use demands.

Stakeholder pressure and regulatory requirements to manage forests for multiple values, such as biodiversity and traditional uses, has added complexity.

Enhanced forest management refers to a range of interventions that manipulate site resources, tree genetics, and forest stand structures with the goals of optimizing tree growth and merchantability. 

NAIT is working in partnership with industry and communities to develop management practices to help secure a stable wood supply while maintaining desired forest values and services. 

Wetland restoration

Boreal wetlands provide important ecological and economic goods and services including:

  • water regulation
  • filtration and storage
  • carbon sequestration
  • wildlife habitat and natural resources 

About 20% of Alberta’s land base represents various forms of wetlands, most of which are in the resource exploration and extraction regions of northern Alberta.

Human activities are increasing pressure on the long-term stability and overall health of boreal peatlands, highlighting the urgency around peatland restoration as a significant nature-based solution to emission reduction efforts.

Learn how NAIT is working with industry partners to develop practical and cost-effective solutions for reclaiming boreal peatlands:

How scientists are restoring boreal peatlands to help keep carbon in the ground

Native plant and seed 

Few native species seed stocks from forest understory are commercially available to provide the plants needed for the reclamation and restoration of industrially disturbed sites.

Our applied research teams are exploring the unknowns related to seed harvesting, handling, viability, dormancy, germination, storage, longevity, greenhouse plant production and field establishment.

Learn how NAIT is working with industry and communities to develop practical methods, technologies and services to advance the use of native plants to lessen the environmental footprint in the boreal forest:

Nanotech seeds could kick-start boreal forest regrowth

Tailings site remediation 

In mining, tailings are the waste materials remaining after extraction of the economic fraction from the ore.

The mining of oil sands for bitumen is a major economic driver in Alberta.  Tailings generated from oil sands extraction are a slurry of sand, clay, silt, hydrocarbons and water.

One of the major challenges with oil sands tailings is the time required for the natural settling and stabilization of particulate solids before reclamation can proceed.

For oil sands tailings, the end goal is to design treatment methods that permit the re-establishment of functional landscapes once industrial activity is complete.

Learn how NAIT is working with industry to develop innovative and nature-based solutions to restore disturbed sites to a natural habitat sooner.

How plants can help clean up oil sands tailings ponds 
Bugs help vegetation grow on tailings

Technical Resources

Explore technical notes, videos, field guides, publications and tools from NAIT's Applied Research Centres