Authors: Remaury, A; Guittonny-Larchevêque, M; Rickson, J
Show More
Purchase Paper

Citation as:   ris   bibtex   endnote   text   Zotero

The management of mine solid waste remains the most important environmental commitment for mine companies. This research project was carried out on the low sulphur waste rock of the Canadian Malartic mine, with the aim of assessing the erosion control effectiveness of different plantation designs on 33% slopes. Since the mine is located in the boreal forest, the purpose of the project is not only to define the design that provides best soil protection, but also to identify which one best promotes the establishment of trees. Fast growing poplar may prove to be effective in erosion control on the waste rock slopes because of its fine root development in dry soil and its effect on soil cohesion. The plantation was established in May 2013 and was monitored over two growing seasons with the aim of determining the effect of five treatments (planted trees at three different spacings without hydroseeding; planted trees with hydroseeding; and a control without trees or hydroseeding) on soil loss. Soil loss measurements were related to root morphology, canopy development and understory cover. In the centre of the plantations, soil loss occurred mainly during the spring snowmelt while soil deposition occurred during summer rainfall. During the first two years after planting, the combination of planted trees with hydroseeding showed the best erosion mitigation compared to the control because of its greater herbaceous cover and greater root length density which maximised soil protection. No difference in soil erosion rates was found between the tree spacing treatments. However, the 1 × 1 m tree spacing significantly increased root density and tree canopy cover in the second year after planting. Potentially this should be reflected in lower soil loss compared with the other treatments in the third year after planting.

Keywords: waste rock slope, soil erosion, soil rehabilitation, plantation design, tree spacing, hydroseeding, understory cover, root length density

Remaury, A, Guittonny-Larchevêque, M & Rickson, J 2016, 'Tree spacing effects on erosion of soil covered waste rock slopes', in AB Fourie & M Tibbett (eds), Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Mine Closure, Australian Centre for Geomechanics, Perth, pp. 517-530.

Armstrong, CL & Mitchell, JK 1987, ‘Transformations of rainfall by plant canopy’, Transactions of the ASAE-American Society of Agricultural Engineers, vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 688–696.
Becker, M 1992, ‘Deux indices de compétition pour la comparaison de la croissance en hauteur et en diamètre d’arbres aux passés sylvicoles variés et inconnus’, Annales des Sciences Forestières, vol. 49, pp. 25–37.
Benomar, L, DesRochers, A & Larocque, GR 2012, ‘The effects of spacing on growth, morphology and biomass production and allocation in two hybrid poplar clones growing in the boreal region of Canada’, Trees, vol. 26, no. 3, pp. 939–949.
Benomar, L, DesRochers, A & Larocque, GR 2013, ‘Comparing growth and fine root distribution in monocultures and mixed plantations of hybrid poplar and spruce’, Journal of Forestry Research, vol. 24, no. 2, pp. 247–254.
Blake, TJ, Tschaplinski, TJ & Eastham, A 1984, ‘Stomatal control of water use efficiency in poplar clones and hybrids’, Canadian Journal of Botany, vol. 62, no. 7, pp. 1344–1351.
Casselman, CN, Fox, TR, Burger, JA, Jones, AT & Galbraith, JM 2006, ‘Effects of silvicultural treatments on survival and growth of trees planted on reclaimed mine lands in the Appalachians’, Forest Ecology and Management, vol. 223, pp. 403–414.
DeBell, DS, Clendenen, GW, Harrington, CA & Zasada, JC 1996, ‘Tree growth and stand development in short-rotation Populus plantings: 7-year results for two clones at three spacings’, Biomass and Bioenergy, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 253–269.
Environment Canada n.d., National climate archives, viewed 31 October 2015,
Fields-Johnson, C, Zipper, CE, Burger, JA & Evans, DM 2009, ‘First year response of mixed hardwoods and improved American chestnuts to compaction and hydroseed treatments on reclaimed mine land’, Proceedings of the 2009 National Meeting of the American Society of Mining and Reclamation, Lexington, pp. 20–34.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 2015, ‘World reference base for soil resources 2014 - International soil classification system for naming soils and creating legends for soil maps’, World soil resources reports, viewed 16 November 2015,
Friend, AL, Scarascia-Mugnozza, G, Isebrands, JG & Heilman, PE 1991, ‘Quantification of two-year-old hybrid poplar root systems: morphology, biomass, and (14)C distribution’, Tree Physiology, vol. 8, pp. 109–119.
Gauthier, S, Gosselin, J, Grondin, P, Lavoie, C, Leduc, A, Morin, H, Morneau, C, Payette, S, Richard, P, Robitaille, A, Saucier, J, Sirois, L, Thiffault, E & Brisson, J 2009, ‘Écologie forestière’, in Ordre des ingénieurs forestiers, Manuel de foresterie, 2nd edn, Éditions Multimondes, Québec, pp. 167–319.
Gray, DH & Sotir RB 1996, Biotechnical and Soil Bioengineering Slope Stabilization: A Practical Guide for Erosion Control, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Haigh, MJ 1977, ‘The use of erosion pins in the study of slope evolution’, British Geomorphological Research Group Technical Bulletin, vol. 18, pp. 31–49.
Haigh, MJ & Gentcheva-Kostadinova, S 2002, ‘Ecological erosion control on coal-spoil banks: an evaluation’, Ecological Engineering, vol. 18, no. 3, pp. 371–377.
Hansen, EA & Baker, JB 1979, ‘Biomass and nutrient removal in short rotation intensively cultured plantations’, Proceedings: Impact of intensive harvesting on forest nutrient cycling, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, pp. 130–151.
Harper, K, Boudreault, C, DeGrandpré, L, Drapeau, P, Gauthier, S & Bergeron, Y 2003, ‘Structure, composition, and diversity of oldgrowth black spruce boreal forest of the Clay Belt region in Quebec and Ontario’, Environmental Reviews, vol. 11, no. S1, pp. S79–S98.
Hoomehr, S 2012, ‘Hydrology, Soil Erosion and Climate Interactions on Low Compaction Steep-Sloped Reclaimed Sites in the Southern Appalachian Coal Fields, Tennessee’, University of Tennessee, viewed 16 November 2015,
Jassal, RS, Black, TA, Arevalo, C, Jones, H, Bhatti, JS & Sidders, D 2013, ‘Carbon sequestration and water use of a young hybrid poplar plantation in north-central Alberta’, Biomass and Bioenergy, vol. 56, pp. 323–333.
Jonasson, S 1983, ‘The point intercept method for non-destructive estimation of biomass’, Phytocoenologia, vol. 11, pp. 385–388.
Kittredge, J 1948, Forest Influences, McGraw-Hill, New York.
Larchevêque, M, Desrochers, A & Larocque, GR 2011a, ‘Comparison of manure compost and mineral fertilizer for hybrid poplar plantation establishment on boreal heavy clay soils’, Annals of Forest Science, vol. 68, no. 4, pp. 849–860.
Larchevêque, M, Maurel, M, Desrochers, A & Larocque, GR 2011b, ‘How does drought tolerance compare between two improved hybrids of balsam poplar and an unimproved native species?’, Tree Physiology, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 240–249.
Loughran, R 1989, ‘The measurement of soil erosion’, Progress in Physical Geography, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 216–233.
Marino, PC & Gross, KL 1998, ‘Competitive effects of conspecific and herbaceous (weeds) plants on growth and branch architecture of Populus × euramericana’, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, vol. 367, pp. 359–367.
Nilsson, U 1994, ‘Development of growth and stand structure in Picea abies stands planted at different initial densities’, Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research, vol. 9, pp. 135–142.
Pang, W, Crow, WT, Luc, JE, McSorley, R, Giblin-Davis, RM & Kenworthy, KE 2011, ‘Comparison of Water Displacement and WinRHIZO Software for Plant Root Parameter Assessment’, Plant Disease, vol. 95, no. 10, pp. 1308–1310.
Pierret, A, Moran, CJ, McLachlan, CB & Kirby, JM 2000, ‘Measurement of root length density in intact samples using x-radiography and image analysis’, Image Analysis & Stereology Impact Factor, vol. 19, pp. 145–149.
Pohl, M, Alig, D, Körner, C & Rixen, C 2009, ‘Higher plant diversity enhances soil stability in disturbed alpine ecosystems’, Plant and Soil, vol. 324, pp. 91–102.
Reubens, B, Poesen, J, Danjon, F, Geudens, G & Muys, B 2007, ‘The role of fine and coarse roots in shallow slope stability and soil erosion control with a focus on root system architecture: a review’, Trees, vol. 21, pp. 385–402.
Scholes, RJ & Archer, SR 1997, ‘Tree-grass interactions in savannas’, Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, vol. 28, pp. 517–544.
Shock, CC, Feibert, EBG, Saunders, LD & Seddigh, M 2002, ‘Initial Growth of Irrigated Hybrid Poplar Decreased by Ground Covers’, Western Journal of Applied Forestry, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 61–65.
Snowdon, P, Raison, J, Keith, H, Ritson, P, Grierson, P, Adams, M, Montagu, K, Bi, H, Burrows, W & Eamus, D 2002, Protocol for sampling tree and stand biomass, Australian Greenhouse Office.
Spitz, K & Trudinger, J 2008, Mining and the environment: from ore to metal, Taylor & F.
Stanturf, J, Van Oosten, C, Netzer, D, Coleman, M & Portwood, C 2001, ‘Ecology and silviculture of poplar plantations’, in Poplar culture in North America, pp. 153–2006.
Stokes, A, Norris, JE, Van Beek, LPH, Bogaard, T, Mickovski, SB, Jenner, A, Di Iorio, A, Glasgow, G & Keynes, M 2008, ‘How vegetation reinforces soil on slopes’, in Slope stability and erosion control: ecotechnological solutions, Springer, pp. 65–118.
Strong, T & Hansen, E 1993, ‘Hybrid poplar spacing/productivity relations in short rotation intensive culture plantations’, Biomass and Bioenergy, vol. 4, pp. 255–261.
Styczen, M & Morgan, R 1995, ‘Engineering properties of vegetation’, in Slope stabilization and erosion control: a bioengineering approach, Springer, pp. 5–58.

© Copyright 2017, Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG), The University of Western Australia. All rights reserved.
Please direct any queries to or error reports to