12/12/ National research team studies progress of reclaimed wetlands
(WINDSOR, ONTARIO, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2008) – A UWindsor researcher is leading a team of scientists from four Canadian universities on a five-year, $3.8-million project to study wetlands restoration in areas of Alberta affected by oil sands mining.
Biology professor Jan Ciborowski and his team are documenting how recreating wetlands with various re-vegetation strategies affects the rate at which wetlands mature, as well as how that process changes the development of plant and animal life.
“This research will be enormously important in determining the industry’s capacity to meet its environmental restoration commitments in the face of pressure to meet increasing world oil demand,” says Dr. Ciborowski, whose team includes George Dixon from the University of Waterloo, Lee Foote of the University of Alberta and Karsten Liber and Judit Smits, from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as 20 graduate students.
Corporations involved in open-pit mining for crude oil in the tar sands of Athabasca have been testing a variety of reclamation methods since the 1970s and have re-vegetated low-lying areas after filling them with a combination of clay, sand and water left over from the refining process.
The research team is measuring carbon and other elemental levels found in organisms living in reclaimed wetlands. The levels help scientists determine organisms’ food sources and provide an indicator of the overall health of the wetlands.
In addition to financial support from universities involved in the project, funding includes $924,000 from the Natural Sciences and Sciences Research Council, and money from Albian Sands Energy Inc., Canadian Natural Resources Limited, Imperial Oil Resources, Petro-Canada Oil Sands Inc., Syncrude Canada Ltd., Suncor Energy Inc., and Total E&P Canada Ltd.
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