Small sites make a big impact in forest restoration

May 2023 – Habitat restoration is considered a cornerstone for caribou recovery, and we’ll be able to restore more land, faster, thanks to a new high tech mounder with distinctive paddle-like arms that creates microsites quickly and effectively. 

Microsites are small, raised and rounded planting locations essential to any reforestation, helping seedlings grow by providing variation in temperature, moisture and sunlight. These sites can be created using a variety of methods and machines, but generally they take quite a bit of time to prepare.

“The Bracke M36.b (Bracke) was designed for forestry application to prepare areas for planting. Typically, forest preparation is done with very low-tech tools,” says Jason Barrie, Senior Environmental Advisor at Cenovus Energy. “The innovative technology here is the ability to create microsites effectively and quickly, making it a really advanced forestry tool."

Our Caribou Habitat Restoration Project is one of the largest of its kind in the world, and for years we’ve been working on techniques best suited to the land to help protect threatened woodland caribou near our operations in northeastern Alberta.  

The Bracke trial last spring built on that work as our teams used the mounding device for restoration along some of our legacy seismic lines, pipelines and winter access roads. It tested well for precision, consistency, height and quality of the microsites created, and the speed of microsite creation.

Operation of the mounder isn’t difficult. The machine is connected to a vehicle and pulled over the desired terrain. As it moves, three paddle-like wheels turn and dig into the ground, creating the microsite while the operator focuses on the speed and depth of the paddles.  

In 2023, we plan to test this machine again using a customized amphibious vehicle which puts less pressure on the ground and maximizes the efficiencies of restoration in lowland environments.  

“Based on our technical review, version 2.0 of our trial looks very promising,” says Jason. “We anticipate we will be able to successfully travel most of the terrain in the Cold Lake region and will improve our restoration efforts in the area to help us reforest legacy areas quicker, and help achieve our biodiversity targets.”
A biodiversity first – fully reclaiming a Christina Lake borrow pit
Borrow pit 8 has officially received a reclamation certificate from the Alberta Energy Regulator. Learn more.

Learn more about Cenovus’s biodiversity ESG targets.

Supporting conservation and environmental education

Our partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada is helping to conserve natural habitats across Canada. Learn more

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