JUNE 14, 2021
Watersheds Canada – In partnership with ten other grassroots organizations across Canada, Watersheds Canada is proud to announce the national launch of the Natural Edge Program thanks to generous funding by the RBC Foundation through RBC Tech for Nature.
Vegetated buffers are effective in removing over 90% of runoff when compared to non-vegetated shorelines and are critical in mitigating the effects of climate change. These areas provide critical habitat and shade for 90% of aquatic wildlife and 70% of land-based wildlife at some point in their lifetime.
Watersheds Canada’s Natural Edge Program empowers Canadians to take local action on the restoration and conservation of their freshwater resources by enhancing their shoreline areas with native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. By working in 11 new communities across Canada, the Natural Edge Program will address the pressing issue of development impacts on local freshwater resources by providing training and all program materials to each group. This will build capacity as they can continue this work into the future and ensure long-term sustainability.
“What makes our approach unique is we have created our Natural Edge App which makes designing shoreline restoration plans fast and easy”, says Chloe Lajoe, Natural Edge Program Manager, Watersheds Canada. “It is very user-friendly and allows us to create plans on-site with the landowner in less than an hour. We have also developed and integrated our custom Native Plant Database to ensure that suitable plants are chosen on a site-specific basis. We provide all the program communication and education materials needed. There is no other program that pools all of these resources together and packages it as a ready-to-go program.”
”To keep our freshwater healthy, scientists suggest that we need to leave at least 75% of our shorelines natural. Our data shows that only about 22% of shorelines on 173 lakes assessed meet this minimum criteria for lake and wildlife health. There is a huge disconnect between people’s values and actions and our Natural Edge Program is designed to bridge this gap”, says Barbara King, Executive Director, Watersheds Canada.
This generous donation is from the RBC Foundation through RBC Tech for Nature, a global, multi-year commitment to support new ideas, technologies, and partnerships to address our most complex environmental challenges. The donation will see on-the-ground, nature-based action across Canada, benefiting hundreds of thousands of Canadians. This comes at a time when shorelines are under considerable threat from climate change and increased development pressures and unsustainable land-use. Shorelines are pillars of local ecosystems and economies and the RBC Foundation has stepped up to ensure these areas are protected for generations to come.
“At RBC, we believe in the power of innovative technologies to address and scale solutions to some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time,” said Valerie Chort, Vice-President, Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability, RBC. “We’re proud to be working alongside Watersheds Canada to develop real-world, scalable solutions to tackle the challenges that continue to plague our environment.”
The Natural Edge Canada-wide program launch will be delivered in 2021 in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and New Brunswick in partnership with eleven organizations:
- Shawnigan Basin Society, Shawnigan Lake, BC
- Carrot River Valley Watershed Association, Melfort, SK
- Moose Jaw River Watershed Stewards, Moose Jaw, SK
- North Saskatchewan River Basin Council, Hafford, SK
- Saskatchewan Association of Watersheds, Regina, SK
- South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards, Saskatoon, SK
- Wascana Upper Qu’Appelle Watersheds Taking Responsibility, Regina, SK
- Kawartha Lakes Stewards Association, Kawartha Lakes Region, ON
- Watersheds Canada, Eastern ON
- Canaan-Washademoak Watershed Association, Canaan and Washademoak watersheds, NB
- Nashwaak Watershed Association, Fredericton, NB
“The Shawnigan Basin Society has completed four independent foreshore restoration projects in the past. We are absolutely delighted to upgrade our program with the support services and technological advances offered by Watersheds Canada’s Natural Edge Program”, says Shirley Astleford, Director, Shawnigan Basin Society. “This program promises to provide us with an expanded opportunity to connect with private landowners who wish to improve their ecological footprint and contribute to increased biodiversity in their community.”
Grassroots organizations who regionally deliver the Natural Edge Program receive a “program in a box” which includes all of the resources and training they need to carry-out the Program from start to finish. Groups are equipped with the custom-built Natural Edge iOS App, online Admin System, and Native Plant Database to engage Canadians and implement shoreline restorations. This innovative technology solution streamlines the restoration process, allowing delivery partners to create custom shoreline restoration designs easily and effectively.
“The Canaan-Washademoak Watershed Association is thrilled to be part of this national initiative to protect and restore our riparian zones”, says Shawn Dalton, Executive Director, Canaan-Washademoak Watershed Association. “We look forward to collaborating with Watersheds Canada and to learning from our colleagues across the country.”
When a shoreline property owner participates in the Natural Edge Program, they are involved in every step of the process. Each custom plan is designed on-site and includes descriptions of native plant species that are selected by the landowner based on their personal preferences and property conditions, such as sunlight and soil type. Using the App, photos are taken of different areas of their property. These photos are then overlaid with selected plants so landowners can see what their restored shoreline will look like before planting actually takes place.
Shoreline property owners living near any of the above listed regional delivery partners are encouraged to contact them directly to arrange a site visit. Spots are limited and are given on a first come, first serve basis. If you have general questions about the Natural Edge Program, please email email@example.com
About Watersheds Canada
Watersheds Canada is a registered Canadian charity committed to providing programs to communities across the country to engage and help individuals enhance and protect the health of their lakes and rivers. Since 2002, they have delivered freshwater stewardship programming, shoreline naturalizations and assessments, and in-water habitat restorations. To learn more, visit Watersheds.ca
Natural Edge Program Manager