Northern Native Plant Development Collections in the NWT

Regions: Dehcho Region, North Slave Region

Tags: native plants, revegetation, seeds, traditional knowledge, agriculture

Principal Investigator: Seccombe-Hett, Pippa (8)
Licence Number: 14075
Organization: Aurora Research Institute
Licenced Year(s): 2018 2007 2006
Issued: Sep 14, 2006
Project Team: Jay Woosaree (Plant Development, Alberta Research Council), Annika Trimble (Summer Student, Aurora Research Institute), William Hurst (Technician, Aurora Research Institute)

Project Description: The need for this project arises from the increased industrial development across the Northwest Territories and the necessity to reclaim and revegetate the land during development or upon abandonment. Northern environments are particularly slow to recover from disturbance because of the short growing season and the extreme environmental conditions. The use of agronomic species can out-compete native vegetation and alter both natural succession and habitat structure which may have negative implications for both wildlife and traditional land uses. Revegetation with native indigenous species has been promoted because of the need to maintain successional processes and ecological diversity which includes genetic diversity. However, the lack of reliable, viable and affordable sources of native seed has been a major barrier in using native plant species on large-scale restoration programs to date. Best practices which require the use of native plant species in revegetation have not been generated or implemented in the Northwest Territories at this point in time because there is no native seed supply available to government, non-government and industrial organizations.

The project is designed to develop technologies utilized to propagate and cultivate native plant species. The main deliverable will ultimately provide a system whereby these species will become available for commercial production and used in revegetation and reclamation in the Northwest Territories. The main activities in this program are: 1) forming a project steering committee involving industry, aboriginal groups and government; 2) identifying plant species suitable for reclamation and revegetation; 3) developing suitable agronomic and cultural practices for commercial production of the candidate species; and 4) identifying employment and training opportunities associated with revegetation.

Seed collection will be conducted during late September. The field collections sites will be accessed by travel in boats and truck depending upon the location of sites. All seed will be collected by hand. Plant species that will be targeted for seed collection will all be common, abundant plants which are early colonizing species. A number of sites will be accessed to ensure that genetic diversity is maintained in all plant species collected and also to minimize local impacts upon the seed bank within any given area.

During the first year of the proposed project, the project steering committee will facilitate recruitment of organizations that would benefit or be technologically involved with the resulting products from this program. The communication strategies will be developed in conjunction with the project steering committee to ensure that the proposed program is inclusive and accessible to all groups who would have an interest in seeing native plant species developed at a commercial level within the Northwest Territories. Communication strategies such as public consultation, community review workshops, website development, and community feedback panels will be considered. Reporting for this program will likely include bi-annual reports for funding organizations and monthly communication with steering committee members. The reporting requirements will be developed in accordance with funding sources and steering committee members.

Fieldwork will be conducted from September 15 to October 31, 2006 at the following locations: in areas adjacent to the highway between Yellowknife and Behchoko.

N.B. Seed collection will not be carried out in areas around Fort Liard as proposed in the research licence application, until approvals have been secured from the Acho Dene Koe Band and the Hamlet of Fort Liard. The proponent will be notified if and when these approvals are registered with the Aurora Research Institute, and will accordingly be allowed to proceed with seed collection within Land Use Zones 25 (Blackstone/Lower Petitot Rivers) and 26 (Liard Range).