Wetlands

, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 211–225 | Cite as

Towards Developing a Functional-Based Approach for Constructed Peatlands Evaluation in the Alberta Oil Sands Region, Canada

  • Felix Nwaishi
  • Richard M. Petrone
  • Jonathan S. Price
  • Roxane Andersen
Review Article

Abstract

Peatlands support vital ecosystem services such as water regulation, specific habitat provisions and carbon storage. In Canada, anthropogenic disturbance from energy exploration has undermined the capacity of peatlands to support these vital ecosystem services, and thus presents the need for their reclamation to a functional ecosystem. As attempts are now being made to implement reclamation plans on post-mining oil sands landscapes, a major challenge remains in the absence of a standard framework for evaluating the functional state of a constructed peatland. To address this challenge, we present a functional-based approach that can guide the evaluation of constructed peatlands in the Alberta oil sands region. We achieved this by conducting a brief review, which synthesized the dominant processes of peatland functional development in natural analogues. Through the synthesis, we identified the interaction and feedback processes that underline various peatland ecosystem functions and their quantifiable variables. By exploring the mechanism of key ecosystem interactions, we highlighted the sensitivity of microbially mediated biogeochemical processes to a range of variability in other ecosystem functions, and thus the appropriateness of using them as functional indicators of ecosystem condition. Following the verification of this concept through current pilot fen reclamation projects, we advocate the need for further research towards modification to a more cost-efficient approach that can be applicable to large-scale fen reclamation projects in this region.

Keywords

Alberta oil sands Biogeochemical processes Constructed peatlands Ecosystem functions Reclamation evaluation 

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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felix Nwaishi
    • 1
  • Richard M. Petrone
    • 2
  • Jonathan S. Price
    • 2
  • Roxane Andersen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Geography & Environmental StudiesWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  2. 2.Department of Geography & Environmental ManagementUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Environmental Research InstituteUniversity of the Highlands and IslandsCaithnessUK

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