Assisted Revegetation Following Contaminated Site Remediation in the Arctic: Four-Year Case Study of a Former Radar Site


Cape Dyer (DYE-M), located on the easternmost point of Baffin Island, is a former DEW line radar station built in 1956-57 which was upgraded in 1993 as part of the current North Warning System. Environmental studies in the late 1990s and early 2000s determined that extensive soil contamination existed across the site, and excavation of six landfills and subsequent reshaping of the area in 2008 disturbed approximately 19,700 m2. A four-year pilot project was conducted between 2009 and 2012 to investigate feasibility of, and determine methods to, accelerate revegetation of the disturbed area through assisted seed dispersal of native and non native species and selective transplantation of slow-growing shrub species. Prior to revegetation efforts, plant surveys conducted in July 2009 determined that 15 species were present in the undisturbed areas, of which Salix arctica (~11%), Vaccinium uliginosum L. (~8%), and Empetrum nigrum L. (~5%) were the predominant species. A total of 14 species (three new) were observed growing on the disturbed areas between 2010 and 2012. The majority of Lolium multiflorum (annual ryegrass) seeds planted as a nurse species in 2009 grew in 2010, but most were stunted and only observed in furrows or sheltered areas at a low density. Salix arctica Pall. (willow) cuttings planted in “islands” of 20-30 cuttings in fall 2009 had a three-year survival rate of 82%, while a second set of cuttings planted in fall 2011 had a one-year survival rate of 93%. Visual observations indicate that patches of new vegetation are becoming more predominant on the disturbed area, especially around the willow islands, indicating the importance of microtopography for successful reclamation in arctic environments. Monitoring over ten or more years will be required to determine the long term success of this project.

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Ficko, S. , Smith, B. and Zeeb, B. (2015) Assisted Revegetation Following Contaminated Site Remediation in the Arctic: Four-Year Case Study of a Former Radar Site. American Journal of Plant Sciences, 6, 1301-1312. doi: 10.4236/ajps.2015.68130.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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