Managing uncertainty : an examination of adaptive management and progressive reclamation in Alberta's mineable oil sands
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Alberta’s oil sands are large, naturally occurring deposits of bitumen, a non- renewable, mineral resource. One problem Alberta faces is the scale of ecological disturbance from oil sands mining. Alberta’s current reclamation law for oil sands requires land to be reclaimed to a state of equivalent land capability and reclamation responsibilities are placed on oil companies. Reclamation publications from oil sands mine sites are currently limited. Additionally, less research on stakeholders’ reclamation perspectives has been published. Understanding stakeholder’s perceptions of reclamation management is necessary to understand if reclamation produces acceptable outcomes for stakeholders. Qualitative data was gathered through semi-structured interviews based on grounded theory approaches to determine stakeholders’ reclamation management perceptions. Results were analyzed using grounded theory and symbolic interactionism. Adaptive management and progressive reclamation appear to be management options for oil sands mine reclamation, but current management frameworks obscure their application. Distrust and uncertainty spread across stakeholder groups because progressive reclamation and adaptive management remain undefined and open to interpretation in Alberta. Without clear, agreed upon definitions, progressive reclamation and adaptive management may be unsuitably applied to oil sands mine reclamation.