Topic: Minimizing Surface Disturbance on Central Parkland and Northern Fescue Grasslands
Native grasslands in the Central Parkland and Northern Fescue natural subregions have evolved with bison grazing and fire. These grasslands provide many key ecological goods and services (e.g., habitat provisioning, forage, CO2 storage, biodiversity). Presently their extent has been greatly reduced by agricultural development, industrial development and alteration/manipulation of grazing and fire paradigms. Today, only a fragment of these native grasslands remain, and they are threatened by establishment and spread of invasive agronomics (e.g., smooth brome) and prohibited noxious weeds (e.g., Canada thistle).
Research has demonstrated that although these grasslands vary in their response to disturbance - their restoration potential is generally low. In particular, plains rough fescue dominated grasslands, a key native grassland, are difficult to restore and susceptible to invasion by other species. Furthermore, restoration potential varies depending on soil texture, with coarser textured soils marginally better suited for restoration success. Based on a literature review, guidelines have been developed that outline strategies to minimize disturbance on these vulnerable native grasslands, with particular emphasis on the planning and siting phase. By planning and siting proactively, we are better positioned to limit impacts on remnant native grasslands.
Laura Blonski is a Range Management Specialist with Alberta Environment and Parks. Originally a city girl (Edmonton), her love for nature resulted in degrees in Conservation Biology (B.Sc.) and Rangeland Management (M.Sc.) from the University of Alberta. Prior to her current role, she has worked in rangeland management and on restoration projects in northern British Columbia and in Utah.
Location: 2nd Floor, Kahanoff Centre, 105, 12 Ave SE, Calgary
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