Boreal Ecosystem Recovery and Assessment

Program Summary

The boreal region of Alberta is under increasing pressure from natural resource extraction. Roads, well pads, seismic lines (petroleum-exploration corridors), forest-harvest areas, and other elements of human footprint exert cumulative environmental effects that influence vegetation communities, wildlife, hydrology, and carbon dynamics. The Boreal Ecosystem Recovery and Assessment (BERA) project is a multi-sectoral research partnership of academic institutions, private-sector companies, a public-sector division, and a not-for-profit organization. Our central goal is to understand the effects of industrial disturbance on natural ecosystem dynamics in the boreal forest, and to develop strategies for restoring disturbed landscapes in a system that is under pressure from climate change.

Research Objectives

Our central goal is to understand the effects of industrial disturbance on natural ecosystem dynamics, and to develop strategies for restoring disturbed landscapes in a system that is under pressure from climate change. Our work is driven by four strategic management goals associated with seismic lines and other types of industrial disturbance:

  1. Promoting a return to forest cover
  2. Restoring natural carbon dynamics
  3. Maintaining wildlife habitat
  4. Enhancing woodland caribou habitat

The research is designed to provide knowledge and planning tools for researchers and resource managers engaged in boreal restoration, and to train the next generation of highly qualified personnel working in this space.

While our work is conducted in the context of Alberta’s boreal forest, the findings and deliverables are anticipated to be transferable to other ecosystems in Canada and beyond.