Tackling climate change through reforestation, a “roller coaster” for the Edmonton organization

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Forester Chris Kallal describes his 10 years of running Wild + Pine in Alberta as a “roller coaster”.

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Dedicated to reforesting old energy industry sites to their natural state, the Edmonton-based environmental organization faces the vagaries of businesses and businesses that are skeptical of its sustainable development mission.

“It’s a pretty hostile environment,” Kallal said. “A lot of times when companies are bought or sold, our work is reduced quite quickly. It is difficult for a company with expensive oil and gas prices to cope with the blows. “

Kallal launched Wild + Pine just after new regulations in 2010 forced energy companies to restore disturbed land to a state of recovery, and his company was later hired to plant trees at old well sites, oil sands and pipelines.

The goal is for the sites to become forests in 40 or 60 years and for the client to get a certificate of reclamation from the government, stating that the site is functioning the same as it was before it was disturbed.

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The oil and gas industry faces a looming emissions cap that has long been promised by the federal government. In recent weeks, the Government of Alberta has announced measures to reduce the province’s emissions, including funding for Carbon Capture and Use and Storage (CCUS) projects as well as a Fast Track Strategy. for hydrogen.

As the province strives to reduce emissions, Kallal said reforestation is a more affordable and natural way to fight climate change.

“Nature’s carbon capture technology has been around forever and it’s just a tree,” he said. “They are a accessible, readily available and can be scaled up cost-effectively.

Despite the planting of hundreds of thousands of trees across Alberta and a strong demand for its services in its first seven years, Wild + Pine’s work has at times been cut short depending on the fortunes of its clients.

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“When a company sells its land asset halfway through the project, it hurts us. We can lose our job that way, ”Kallal said.

This uncertainty prompted Kallal to diversify its business and take a new direction towards 2018.

He began accepting more work from corporate clients who were converting old agricultural areas into parkland aspens or grasslands dotted with poplars and spruce trees.

But he is most proud of the Bioprism greenhouse system that Wild + Pine started developing in 2018.

Operational since 2020 and built using specialized lighting developed by Edmonton technology company G2V Optics, Kallal said the greenhouse can produce 150,000 seedlings each year and mimics any warm environment on the planet. to encourage their growth.

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The greenhouse will allow the company to pursue more projects that help businesses and governments meet carbon offsetting goals by planting trees at a site and managing it until it can begin to sequester carbon and to gain carbon offsets.

Kallal said he sees huge demand for greenhouses like his if other projects like the federal government’s goal of planting two billion trees in 10 years materialize.

“To achieve this goal, we will need to produce over 200 million additional plants,” he said. “We are trying to develop greenhouse technology to achieve this goal. We will need 100 or 200 more bioprisms to meet this demand.

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