Reclamation in Progress: The Potential of Waste
Oil sands mine development has disturbed 47,832 hectares of Canadian boreal forest. However, only 0.2% of this land has been certified as reclaimed.
Reclamation is the final step mining companies are required to complete before mine closure. Defined in Alberta as the “stabilization, contouring, maintenance, conditioning or reconstruction of the surface of land,” reclamation is an essential component of responsible oil sands development. How will this newly reclaimed landscape be designed? What habitats, ecologies, and species will mining companies, engineers, and designers prioritize?
Will efforts be made to return the land to a pre-extraction state? Or will we be able to see, beyond the environmental destruction, our positive role as designers and, in doing so, allow ourselves to understand the oil sands as a vast human-designed ecosystem?
In this site of intervention, waste and leftover sand will dominate as the foundation of future ecologies.