Restoring Aspen Parkland at Riverlot 56 in Central Alberta
The Aspen Parkland ecoregion occurs within Canada and the United States of America between boreal forest and prairie grasslands. Large scale clearing and cultivation of this region has left very little of it in a natural state. Riverlot 56 is a protected area that contains unaltered, natural aspen forest as well as some cleared areas that have been cultivated for hay. In 2014 the Riverlot 56 Natural Area Society, as designated stewards of the site, initiated a project with the aim of reforesting the cleared section in order to restore habitat and control the invasive plant species that had colonized the cleared area in the absence of native vegetation. Plantings of native trees and shrubs were conducted utilizing three methods; within fenced "exclosures" to prevent grazing, within "islands" of unmowed areas, and transplanted from the forest edge into a row. The intention was that these plantings would provide cover eventually outcompeting the invasive
By 2018, when this current project was initiated, there had been limited follow up and it was unknown whether the plantings had been successful. The goal of this project is to assess the three techniques that were utilized in order to answer the question, what is the most effective way to reforest a site within the Aspen Parkland while controlling invasive species? All of the plantings that were conducted in the study area were assessed for their rate of survival, both by species and propagation method. Within the three planting areas and the open field the amount of invasive plants per m 2 was assessed in order to understand the effectiveness of the plantings in controlling them.
The intention of conducting this new project was to understand what had been effective in order to continue applying the principles of adaptive management. As there is limited information available on restoration projects within Aspen Parkland adaptive management offers the most effective way of managing the site while simultaneously gaining a greater understanding of the site. Over the long term reviewing what methods have been effective on site and adjusting management plans accordingly it will be possible to effectively and efficiently reforest Riverlot 56.