April 18, 2023 — There are many newly restored shorelands in the Quinte and Cataraqui watersheds in Ontario thanks to a project led by Watersheds Canada and Quinte Conservation. In total, 17 shoreline properties were restored with 4,000 native species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers which have restored a total of 14,780 square meters of shoreline.
Shoreline ecosystems, or riparian zones, are especially valuable habitat for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife. The shoreline area includes the first 30 metres of land around a lake or river. It is considered the “ribbon of life” because it supports 70% of land-based wildlife and 90% of aquatic species at some point in their lifetime. Native wildlife like birds, mammals, insects, fish, reptiles, and amphibians depend on shoreline habitat for food, water, shelter, and breeding.
Watersheds Canada was honoured to receive funding for this project through the Ontario Community Environment Fund. The Ontario government is reinvesting almost $900,000 in 17 projects across the province that will help protect and restore the environment and support stronger, healthier, and cleaner communities.
“As a national charity, Watersheds Canada receives no regular funding year to year to lead our vital freshwater stewardship and restoration programs. We are thankful to individual donors, family foundations, and granting organizations like the Ontario Community Environment Fund for coming alongside property owners and community groups to take locally relevant stewardship actions to protect freshwater health for decades to come”, says Chloe Lajoie, Natural Edge Program Manager at Watersheds Canada.
Without the support and knowledge from local community partners, Watersheds Canada’s programs would not be successful. For this project, Watersheds Canada was fortunate to work with long-time partner Quinte Conservation to deliver practical and proven ways to restore deteriorating shoreline conditions and improve water quality over the long-term.
“Our government is proud to partner with community organizations across the province, like Watersheds Canada and Quinte Conservation, to invest in the incredible work they are doing to restore shorelands. This is a great example of how the Ontario Community Environment Fund is supporting healthy communities and a healthy environment for generations to come,” said David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks.
The Natural Edge is a custom-built program developed by Watersheds Canada. 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 with trained staff 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.
“This [the Natural Edge] is about experts advising me all along the way and providing personalized advice about the land and shoreline that I am stewarding. The relationship part of the service is such a huge part of this program. The consultants listened to my priorities and offered solutions that really fit for the shoreline. They are helping us plan for our grandchildren and maybe the next 100 years of shoreline and keeping the water clean and habitable and the land completely in balance for all sentient beings”, said Linda, a participating property owner in this project.
Because of this project, a number of lake health and shoreline environmental benefits will be observed for decades to come in the Cataraqui and Quinte watersheds. These benefits include:
- Naturalizing shorelines to reduce the amount of algae;
- Improving water quality by filtering out contaminants, nutrients, and sediments from local runoff;
- Increasing soil retention and erosion prevention; Increasing resilience to climate change;
- Improving and increasing fish habitat by providing overhanging vegetation for shade, cover, and spawning; and
- Increasing the variety of habitat to attract wildlife, including pollinating insects, birds, and bats.
Property owners across Ontario can participate in the Natural Edge in 2023, particularly in the Quinte, Mississippi, Cataraqui, and St. Lawrence watersheds. Interested landowners can purchase a “Shoreline Re-naturalization Starter Kit” which includes a site visit, staff expertise, 50 carefully selected native plants, and all the materials and resources needed to complete a shoreline naturalization project. For more information, please visit https://naturaledge.watersheds.ca/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About Watersheds Canada
Watersheds Canada is a national non-profit charitable organization that works with landowners, communities, students, and organizations to enhance and protect lakes and rivers through developing effective and transferable long-term solutions. Watersheds Canada envisions people caring for their waters, resulting in clean, healthy lakes and rivers to support humans and wildlife for years to come. Learn more at Watersheds.ca
About Quinte Conservation
Quinte Conservation is a local watershed based not-for-profit environmental protection agency. They deliver science-based programs and services to residents and municipalities within their watershed. Learn more: QuinteConservation.ca
Natural Edge Program Manager
lajoie (at) watersheds.ca