The SER-WC Annual General Meeting and Fall Forum in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, featured a range of useful presentations — some focused on local restoration efforts and best practices, and others highlighting important ecological processes that have implications for restoration.

SER-WC Director Darcy Henderson, a senior species at risk biologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, kicked off the event with a presentation that provided context through a much broader perspective.

Titled Recipes for Restoration: Context of Climate and Landscape in Western Canada, the presentation made it clear that restoration strategies must consider local landscapes and climate conditions.

Henderson puts it this way in his presentation abstract:

If you have lived in wet and dry parts of Western Canada, and you happen to be a baker, you may have noticed how the same recipe doesn’t always work in one place or the other. I certainly notice that a lot of recipes in dry places require you to add a quarter cup of water not otherwise called for, because the recipe-book author lived in a wet place where their flour, baking soda, and other ingredients had absorbed moisture from the air while mine had desiccated.

In a restoration context you see the same things. Season and method of planting, along with the use of cover crops are particular pet peeves of mine. We have drastically different ecosystems across Western Canada, from Pacific Maritime Rainforest, to Great Basin Deserts, to Northern Great Plains, to Subarctic and Subalpine Coniferous Forests, to Alpine and Arctic Tundra. We also have very different landscape contexts.

A restoration site in the middle of an agricultural and urban landscape is going to suffer from an abundance of weeds and propagule pressure with no native plant and soil micro-organism immigration over time. In contrast, a mine site, right of way, or well-pad in large expanses of natural forests and grasslands are surrounded by an abundance of natural propagule sources and dispersal vectors.

Despite these challenges and opportunities, we often see the same poor practices of hydro-seeding cover crops and cultivars of the same agricultural species without respect to climate and landscape. Let’s talk about it and challenge some norms. Good bakers must know how to substitute and supplement ingredients when necessary.

Download the presentation here (pdf)