Wetlands: How Marshes and Swamps Can Save the World

by Ty Fischer, Riparian Habitat Restoration Intern

Addressing an issue as complex and multifaceted as climate change is a daunting task. The scale of the problem is so large, the impacts are so profound, and the need to solve current problems versus the need to prevent future ones from appearing is a tough balance to strike.

This last reason is why it is so important to direct our attention towards environmental objectives that attack the climate change issue from multiple angles at once, thereby affording us time to effectively adapt to the changes that are happening while simultaneously mitigating future harm. One of the best examples of such an objective is the conservation of wetland ecosystems.

Wetlands, which include marshes, swamps, bogs, and any other area with high groundwater levels as a result of permanent or temporary flooding (Government of Canada, 2016), provide an incredible array of different ecosystem services and functions that are (and will remain in the future) critically important to the planet’s well-being. They soften the blow of flooding events, soaking up excess water like giant sponges before it has the chance to wreak havoc on human cities or on fragile ecosystems. Wetlands also improve water quality by filtering out excess nutrients and toxins from farm, road, and sewage runoff. They are the source of many of our essential resources including food, energy, and building materials (Government of Canada, 2016). Additionally, and perhaps most remarkably, wetlands are extremely effective at sequestering carbon captured from the atmosphere which serves as a buffer against future climatic changes (Mitsch et al., 2013).

A Great Egret rest on a fallen tree in a large wetland (Simon Lunn).

Furthermore, the structural diversity of wetlands (as evidenced by their characterization in the literature of 49 wetland forms and 72 wetland types) gives rise to a considerable amount of biodiversity (Wulder et al., 2018). These areas are essential for providing food and habitat for countless species of macroinvertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and notably, various species of shorebirds and waterfowl (Government of Canada, 2016). In fact, many of Canada’s most iconic species of birds heavily rely on these areas throughout their lives.

Such species include the Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), a majestic bird with gray-blue plumage, a craned neck, and a long yellow beak. Great Blue Heron frequent freshwater marshes across the country, using these areas for many important aspects of their lives including nesting and for foraging for small fish and mammals (COSEWIC, 2008).

There is also the Great Egret (Ardea alba), unmistakable in their elegance with their eye-catching snowy white plumage and jet-black legs. Though the population in Canada is significantly smaller than that of the Great Blue Heron, they can still often be spotted in small ponds, estuaries, and marshes. They use these areas for nesting and for feeding on fish, reptiles, amphibians, and various small invertebrates (Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 2019).

Last but not least, the Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis). If you are lucky, you can observe this small heron when in the southern parts of Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, and in the Maritime provinces. Like Great Blue Heron and Great Egret, these birds prefer large, shallow marshes with emergent vegetation where they can breed and satisfy their diet of fish, snakes, amphibians, and large insects (COSEWIC, 2009).

A Least Bittern camouflages in its wetland environment (Simon Lunn).

Canada, which has 25% of the world’s wetlands lying within its borders (Ray et al., 2021), bears a responsibility to protect these ecosystems and the species they contain – especially considering how many have already been lost. Fifteen-percent of the original wetlands in Canada (Cole et al., 2022), and 70% of the original wetlands in Southern Ontario, have been converted to other land uses (North American Wetlands Conservation Council, 2003). Though rates of habitat loss have slowed, growing human populations are ramping up the pressure for further conversion of wetlands to accommodate more urban, agricultural, and recreational areas. The risks of such changes include the fragmentation or destruction of wetland habitats, reduced water quality from excess nutrients or toxins, an increasing prevalence of invasive species, and much more (COSEWIC, 2009).

Everyone has the capacity to help push back against these changes, though! One of the best ways to do so is by supporting organizations that conduct research on the species in wetland ecosystems, organize restoration projects and other stewardship initiatives, and advocate for policy makers to create and enforce stricter regulations on land development. Watersheds Canada, Ducks Unlimited, Canadian Wildlife Federation, World Wildlife Fund Canada, and the Nature Conservancy of Canada are a few of Canada’s national authorities that are leaders in freshwater habitat conservation.

By working together, we can ensure these areas of significant ecological, hydrological, and anthropogenic importance remain in the forefront of our conservation priorities – for us, for our native species, and for the betterment of our collective future.


COSEWIC (2008). COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Great Blue Heron fannini subspecies Ardea herodias fannini in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vii + 39 pp. www.sararegistry.gc.ca/status/status_e.cfm.
COSEWIC (2009). COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Ottawa. vi + 36 pp. www.sararegistry.gc.ca/status/status_e.cfm)
Environment Canada. (2016, January 14). Water Sources: Wetlands. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/water-overview/sources/wetlands.html
Great Egret Overview, all about birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Overview, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology. (n.d.). https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Egret/
Mitsch, W. J., Bernal, B., Nahlik, A. M., Mander, Ü., Zhang, L., Anderson, C. J., Jørgensen, S. E., & Brix, H. (2012). Wetlands, carbon, and climate change. Landscape Ecology28(4), 583–597. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10980-012-9758-8
North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada) (2003). Wetland Stewardship in Canada: Contributed Papers from the Conference on Canadian Wetlands Stewardship. https://nawcc.wetlandnetwork.ca/Rep03-2e.pdf
Ray, J. C., Grimm, J., & Olive, A. (2021). The Biodiversity Crisis in Canada: Failures and challenges of federal and sub-national strategic and legal frameworks. FACETS, 6, 1044–1068. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2020-0075
Wulder, M., Li, Z., Campbell, E., White, J., Hobart, G., Hermosilla, T., & Coops, N. (2018). A national assessment of wetland status and trends for Canada’s forested ecosystems using 33 years of Earth Observation Satellite Data. Remote Sensing10(10), 1623. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10101623

You Can Give Our Lakes and Rivers a Fighting Chance

Healthy Shorelands Tackle the Climate Crisis

Extreme weather alerts sent more waterfront communities running for safety this past year. Perhaps nowhere else in Canada is the aftermath of wildfires, derechos, floods, and other symptoms of climate change more obvious than on lakes and rivers. Support for Watersheds Canada addresses climate change impacts on habitat, water quality, and costly insurance claims.

Your Donations Plant the Future

Watersheds Canada is a take-action organization that restores the riparian zone, or “ribbon of life.” Your support put shovels in the ground to plant nature-based climate resiliency through The Natural Edge. Our hands-on work supports people and properties, as well as species at risk including Blanding’s turtles and monarch butterflies! We have more shoreland restoration sites than we do funding dollars. Please help us.

Get Involved in Community Science

Blue-green algae blooms, shoreline development, runoff, and erosion increases the demand for shoreland naturalization, as well as the nationally acclaimed program Love Your Lake. We couldn’t do it without partnerships and donations. Over 50,000 waterfront assessments have achieved local action on hundreds of lakes based on our science-based recommendations.

Save Walleye and Trout Spawning Areas

We just helped another walleye population by removing a build-up of silt that obstructed their spawning area. If we’re not in the water supporting fisheries restoration work, we are in schools and libraries delivering our Nature Discovery program.

You Have a Voice

The Watersheds Canada team is also in front of government officials with our advocacy for freshwater protection. Thank you for helping us send over 5,000 “save our shorelands” action-letters to influence recent legislative change. Indeed, we have some serious work ahead and we need your support.

Will you help make sure our lakes and rivers have a fighting chance with a critical year-end donation? Your tax-deductible donation ensures historic spawning beds, shoreland buffers, and science-based education materials are all accessible to groups and individuals across the country.

Your generosity protects the lakes and rivers we all love.

Please, donate today.

A gift of a greener earth: symbolically adopt a turtle, salamander, osprey, or sandpiper!

by Ty Fischer, Riparian Health Restoration Technician

With cooler temperatures approaching, you might be starting to think about the holiday season and everything that comes with it – skiing or snowboarding, sipping warm apple cider by the fire, snacking on gingerbread and other sweets, and of course, exchanging gifts with your friends and family.

If you are starting your search for a thoughtful and unique gift for the nature lover in your life, look no further than our symbolic adoptions. Taking one of these representative species under their wing will directly support Watersheds Canada’s programs, and with four new options to consider – Blanding’s turtleeastern red-backed salamanderosprey, or spotted sandpiper – there are plenty of choices to help you select the perfect species for the gift’s recipient.

Symbolic adoptions start at $25 and all monies raised support on-the-ground freshwater stewardship work! Tax receipts are available on eligible purchases of $25+. Each symbolic adoption includes a 5″x7″ postcard featuring a different work of art done by a Canadian artist. Gifts also include a beautiful blank honour card for you to personalize and personally give as a gift to your friend, loved one, or co-worker (or yourself!).

Have questions? Email us at info (at) watersheds.ca or call 613-315-6110.

The Eastern Red-Backed Salamander and Our Shared Shoreline Responsibility

by Andres Clavier, Freshwater Stewardship Education Intern

World Habitat Day, October 2nd, offers a moment to reflect on the interconnectedness of life within our Canadian landscapes. To commemorate, let us delve into the fascinating world of a prolific Canadian salamander species: the Eastern Red-Backed Salamander (Plethodon cinereus). This amphibian can teach us much about the value of shoreline habitats and the crucial role that we can play in conserving these unique ecosystems.

From Manitoba to the Maritimes, the Eastern Red-Backed Salamander is a vital component in nutrient cycling between our aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and they are often considered great environmental indicators due to their sensitivity to decays in water quality and temperature changes (Walton, et al., 2018). In spring, these salamanders lay eggs in damp environments, often beneath logs or rocks within shoreline land. Temporary bodies of water, known as vernal pools, play a crucial part in their lifecycle. These pools, devoid of predatory fish, provide a safe breeding ground for the larvae to develop and grow (Semlitsch and Bodie, 1998).

As summer arrives, mature salamanders migrate into the upland forest, where leaf litter near shorelines becomes their primary feeding ground. They feast on invertebrates, controlling pests and promoting biodiversity (Davic and Welsh, 2004). When winter sets in, the salamanders retreat to rocky shoreline crevices for hibernation. These spaces, buffered by the adjacent water, provide stable temperature conditions essential for survival throughout the cold Canadian winter months (Storey and Storey, 1986).

Beyond pest regulation, salamanders significantly impact the nutrient cycle. A study in the Journal of Applied Ecology (Walton, et al., 2018) emphasized their contribution to forest health by redistributing nutrients from aquatic to terrestrial ecosystems.

The survival of the Eastern Red-Backed Salamander underscores the importance of preserving shoreline habitats. This responsibility does not just lie with environmental organizations or governmental bodies; shoreline property owners also have a significant role to play. Riparian buffers, vegetated areas along water bodies, help maintain these critical habitats. They provide natural filtration, control erosion, and create wildlife corridors. Property owners can help by preserving existing vegetation, limiting fertilizer and pesticide use, and reducing impervious surfaces, all of which contribute to the health of these buffer zones (Mayer et al., 2007).

World Habitat Day is a reminder of the biodiversity that thrives in our backyards and the shared responsibility we have in preserving it. By protecting shoreline habitats on our properties, we not only ensure the survival of the Eastern Red-Backed Salamander, but we also contribute to the broader ecological health of our waterways. Shoreline property owners can take action by restoring their shoreline property using Watersheds Canada’s Guide to Preparing a Shoreline Naturalization Planting Plan and Native Plant Care Guide, or by booking a site visit with the Natural Edge shoreline renaturalization team.

Another great way to help local species is by symbolically adopting an Eastern Red-Backed Salamander. All symbolic adoptions are Canadian tax receipt eligible, and directly fund habitat restoration and enhancement projects across Canada.

Indeed, there are many ways to help our shoreline species thrive. We must take the time to honour the interconnectedness of life on our planet and work together to safeguard our precious habitats for future generations of wildlife and people to come.


Davic, R.D., Welsh, H.H. (2004). On the ecological roles of salamanders. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, 35: 405-434.
Mayer, P.M., et al. (2007). Riparian buffer width, vegetative cover, and nitrogen removal effectiveness: A review of current science and regulations. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC, EPA/600/R-05/118.
Semlitsch, R.D., Bodie, J.R. (1998). Are small, isolated wetlands expendable? Conservation Biology, 12: 1129-1133.
Storey, K.B., Storey, J.M. (1986). Freeze tolerance and intolerance as strategies of winter survival in terrestrially-hibernating amphibians. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology, 83(4): 613-617.
Walton, Z., Sam, K., Spears, L.E. (2018). Salamanders and nutrient cycling: Direct and indirect impacts on ecosystem function. Journal of Applied Ecology, 55: 1288-1299.

What’s your favourite river?

by Chloe Lajoie, Natural Edge Program Manager

Today is a special day – today is World Rivers Day. As the program manager of Watersheds Canada’s program, The Natural Edge, I have helped landowners, students, community partners and volunteers, and municipalities plant over 104,000 native species to bring nature back to severely degraded shorelands. That work is happening right now!

However, our fall planting season is tall on restoration site demands and short on funds. You help us get more plants in the ground by donating $70, $130, or $205.

Over 8,000 river systems define our nation as well as our small towns. The mighty MacKenzie, Yukon, Fraser, and thousands of other rivers are the precious places that Watersheds Canada wants people to think about on World River Day.

What is your favourite river? I’d like to tell you about mine because it shows how Watersheds Canada supporters are making a difference.

For the past two years, the shoreline along the St. Lawrence River has had a nature-based makeover thanks to the Natural Edge Program and hundreds of our volunteers. Native species of plants like Sweet Gale, Snowberry, and Fragrant Sumac have been used to stabilize shorelines, improve water quality, provide wildlife habitat, and mitigate erosion on steep slopes.

The size of the St. Lawrence River always makes me stop and take a moment to appreciate the beauty of our freshwater areas; I’m sure you feel the same when you are beside a treasured river of your own. I have had the pleasure of coming back to this river multiple times, planting alongside passionate shoreline property owners, students, municipal staff, and community partners and volunteers who are ready to take action to protect their local river health.

To celebrate World Rivers Day, I invite you to join our special community of donors by becoming a river champion today. Your support will make it so we can do more planting this fall, protecting Canada’s rivers now and for generations to come. Happy World Rivers Day!

The Doug Smith story

by Robert Pye, Executive Director

Toward Doug Smith’s end of life, he asked Watersheds Canada to tell his story.

“As I grew up, I spent a lot of time near water. I loved the water,” said Doug, as his wife, Janet Taylor, sat by his side. Together, they shared fond cottage memories in a heartfelt interview filmed near their Ottawa home on March 1st.  

Two weeks later, Doug passed away. He was 81. 

Doug’s poetic message about the value of lakes and rivers, and the need for freshwater protection, was his final project. It humbly summarizes his family’s love of water and environmental achievements, including his motivation to present Watersheds Canada with their first-ever legacy gift.

A dentist by profession, a pilot by avocation, Doug’s idea for a legacy gift to Watersheds Canada speaks to his high-altitude outlook on life; he was a big picture dreamer and an energetic go-getter who did it all for his family, friends, colleagues and nature. After years of windsurfing across lakes, and hours of flying high above them, it was perhaps an aerial appreciation for freshwater stewardship that inspired Doug and Janet to support the future of Watersheds Canada. 

“I understand that we are the first to have made a legacy donation to Watersheds Canada and it makes us feel great. It just seemed a natural fit for us,” said Janet who volunteers for Watersheds Canada. Her sister Susan, and Susan’s husband, Daniel, are also outstanding supporters of the organization.

The Doug Smith and Janet Taylor Legacy Fund will grant dollars for local stewardship projects as well as bring more freshwater volunteers and organizations together for education and collaboration. Watersheds Canada will also promote Doug and Janet’s encouragement for others to give back to nature through active environmental volunteerism, charitable donations, and legacy planning. That encouragement is presented in the video that Doug knew would play a critical role in Watersheds Canada’s communications and volunteer engagement efforts.

The official debut of Doug’s story was presented recently at his celebration of life. Doug’s whole world was there – in-person or in spirit – for a touching salute to all the important themes of his life which almost always included time on or high above the water.  

Watersheds Canada now presents an opportunity for the rest of the world to enjoy Doug’s freshwater message. It is a chance to deeply reflect upon our own personal connections with Canada’s lakes and rivers. We all have an opportunity to support our watersheds. 

Doug and Janet are the official founders of Watersheds Canada’s new legacy giving program. 

“Yes, we’re going to do this. It’s quite an achievement for us,” said Doug about how a legacy donation to Watersheds Canada “makes the most sense” given his family’s great determination to support experiences in nature for generations to come.  

Through Doug and Janet’s planned giving initiative, Watersheds Canada is proud to represent personal legacy dreams for our freshwater future. To learn more, please visit watersheds.ca/legacy

Watersheds Canada now accepting intents of interest for Canada-wide climate change resilient shorelands project!

Watersheds Canada is accepting intents of interest from volunteer-led waterfront and nature-focused groups to participate in an exciting new, nationwide project funded by the RBC Foundation through RBC Tech for Nature. This project will run for two years and will focus on getting shoreline renaturalization tools and resources in the hands of groups already leading local environmental change in their community, particularly around shoreline and freshwater health.

Canada’s freshwater is under threat as the health of lakes and rivers rapidly declines. The way people previously viewed and developed waterfront properties has expedited the degradation of shorelines in unprecedented ways. Algae blooms, loss of biodiversity, and poor climate resiliency, such as flooding and erosion, are a few of the growing challenges facing Canada’s freshwater. Given increasing development pressures and unsustainable land-use on lakes and rivers and the known impacts of climate change, the need to naturalize shorelines and build their resiliency is urgent. 

To actively improve and protect Canada’s freshwater, Watersheds Canada will work alongside 20 volunteer-led organizations across the country from 2023-2024 to deliver our Natural Edge Program. The 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 for long-term sustainability.

For over 10 years, Watersheds Canada has partnered with property owners, municipalities, and community groups to restore and protect the health of their lake, river, or bay using the Natural Edge shoreline restoration program. This program bridges the gap between desires and abilities to act by providing groups with the iOS Planting Plan software, training materials, expert staff guidance, and stewardship tools like the Native Plant Database. The custom-made, innovative iOS technology streamlines the restoration process, allowing volunteers to confidently and easily create custom shoreline restoration designs.

To participate in this project, groups should be volunteer-based organizations or have a very strong volunteer network supporting their program delivery. Groups can be based anywhere in Canada and need to have at least two representatives who will participate in shoreline stewardship training in winter-summer 2024 and lead the restoration of five shoreline properties in their community in 2024.

 If this project sounds like a perfect fit for your group, please email Chloe Lajoie, Natural Edge Program Manager at Watersheds Canada, for more information: lajoie@watersheds.ca

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. 

About RBC Tech for Nature
RBC Tech for Nature is a global, multi-year commitment to support new ideas, technologies, and partnerships to address the most complex environmental challenges.

News release – “Sustaining our Freshwater” pilot program enhances freshwater health in Municipalities of South Frontenac, Tweed

June 15, 2023 — Thanks to the “Sustaining Our Freshwater” project, the Municipalities of South Frontenac and Tweed will see lake health and shoreline environmental benefits for decades to come. This two-year pilot project led by Watersheds Canada, Quinte Conservation, Cataraqui Conservation, Dog & Cranberry Lakes Association, the Municipality of South Frontenac, the Municipality of Tweed, and Friends of Stoco Lake and local residents is restoring and sustainably naturalizing shorelines along Stoco Lake and Dog Lake to improve freshwater quality.

Watersheds Canada was honoured to receive funding for this nature-based restoration project through the Government of Canada’s EcoAction Community Funding Program to protect the long-term health of two lakes within Frontenac and Hastings counties. As a national charity, Watersheds Canada does not receive regular funding to lead freshwater stewardship and restoration programs. For this project, Watersheds Canada was fortunate to have the support and knowledge of local community partners to deliver locally relevant stewardship actions.

“Watersheds Canada is excited to continue this important project in the Municipalities of Tweed and South Frontenac. One critical part of the project is the Love Your Lake program which will provide lakeside residents with the information and action steps they need to protect their freshwater health for years to come”, says Melissa Dakers, Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager at Watersheds Canada.

Freshwater lakes are essential for ecological function and socioeconomic needs. The riparian zone represents the shoreline ecosystem along the first 30 metres of land surrounding a lake or river. Native birds, insects, and other terrestrial and aquatic wildlife depend on the vital habitat provided by this “ribbon of life” for food, water, shelter, and breeding. Shoreline properties can thus make a great impact on a lake or river. Shoreline vegetation acts as a buffer to a host of natural and human-made pollutants to improve water quality, moderate temperatures, mitigate flood frequency and impacts, reduce erosion, and provide natural wildlife habitat. Naturalized shorelines are cost-effective, ecologically responsible, beautiful, and add value to waterfront properties. 

The Planning for our Shorelands program developed science-based information and educational resources to facilitate public engagement. Freshwater information toolkits, public consultations, and information events held in 2023 will continue to engage and empower municipal decision-makers, freshwater stakeholders, Conservation Authorities, small businesses, Indigenous communities, and waterfront property owners to take action in protecting local freshwater. The Natural Edge shoreline naturalization program is restoring two public shoreline sites through public plantings and demonstration events to showcase naturalization practices within the communities.

The Love Your Lake program will conduct 600 private shoreline assessments for the “Sustaining Our Freshwater” project. Each waterfront owner will receive a detailed report with site-specific observations and recommendations for naturalizing their property. The 600 waterfront properties that receive a site assessment will be invited to participate in a detailed restoration plan with Watersheds Canada. This plan will then be implemented with the guidance and support of local staff to ensure maximum protection of the adjacent lake or river.

The Love Your Lake program, coordinated and delivered by the Canadian Wildlife Federation and Watersheds Canada, invites waterfront associations and organizations to volunteer their lake or other waterbody as participants in the program. If accepted, every property on the lake will be assessed using a standardized shoreline assessment protocol, and landowners will receive a personalized, private property report. These reports contain details on the state of their shoreline and recommended voluntary actions for improving lake health for people and wildlife. 

Participating in Love Your Lake is a great way to gauge the health of your lake and become a steward of your local freshwater! Learn more about the Love Your Lake shoreline assessment program by visiting LoveYourLake.ca or by emailing loveyourlake@watersheds.ca. For helpful tips to keep your shoreline property happy and healthy for future generations, visit loveyourlake.ca/self-assessment for a quick online shoreline self-assessment tool.

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 at QuinteConservation.ca


Media Contact:
Melissa Dakers
Habitat and Stewardship Program Manager
Watersheds Canada

Taking the First Step to Protect Your Local Freshwater

Do you own a waterfront property? Shoreline property owners like you have a unique opportunity to protect the long-term health of your waterbody by creating a naturalized shoreline using native plants.

Native species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers have many important benefits for nearby lakes, rivers, streams, and tributaries. Naturalized shorelines work to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality, create vital wildlife habitat, and regulate water temperatures. Native species of plants are best suited to protect freshwater health, especially tree and shrub species that have deeper and more complex root structures compared to mowed lawns.

Protecting your local freshwater health can be a daunting task, which is why Watersheds Canada created the Natural Edge Program. This one-of-a-kind program uses impactful technology with its own iOS App that creates personalized restoration plans using native plant species best suited for a property based on Canada’s hardiness zones and the site’s conditions.

Created in under an hour, the customized planting plan is your blueprint to take action on your property! You pick the plant species you want on your property that may produce fruit, attract certain wildlife species, be your favourite colour, or grow to a certain height to protect your waterfront views. Site visits with Natural Edge staff are free in eligible regions of Ontario.

Once you get and approve your planting plan, it’s time to get planting! For just $395, Natural Edge shoreline renaturalization starter kits give you everything you need to keep the momentum going. Each kit contains 50 native plants (25 bare root stock, 15 potted stock, 10 wildflowers), 45 hemp fiber pads, tree guards, mulch for wildflowers, and 4 planting and stewardship guides.


Click here to fill in a request!

Watersheds Canada’s Natural Edge Program nominated for prestigious conservation award

July 9, 2023 – At the 14th annual Water Canada Summit and Gala Awards, an event that brought about 300 water professionals and industry leaders this week to Ottawa, Watersheds Canada’s Natural Edge Program was nominated for the prestigious Conservation Award. Chloe Lajoie, the Natural Edge program manager, and Robert Pye, Watersheds Canada’s executive director were there in honour of the nomination last night. 

Jen Smith, Editor Water Canada, said “Congratulations to Watersheds Canada on being a finalist. It was absolutely true what I said at the awards dinner: there were an incredible number of nominations this year, so making it to the top 3 was quite a feat!”

“Watersheds Canada is honoured to be a finalist for this national award. We will take pride in sharing Water Canada’s recognition with all our great funders, volunteers, and staff who support our shoreland habitat restoration work,” said Chloe Lajoie. 

The Natural Edge shoreline restoration program is taking critical steps to create and conserve healthy shorelands across Canada. The program removes barriers to action for waterfront property owners, municipalities, and community groups to easily restore and protect their freshwater areas. 

This one-of-a-kind program uses impactful technology with its own iOS App that creates personalized restoration plans using native plant species best suited for a property based on Canada’s hardiness zones and the site’s conditions. By using nature-based solutions, the Natural Edge Program is increasing the climate resiliency for Canada’s freshwater areas. Climate resilient shorelands have reduced soil erosion, improved water quality, vital wildlife habitat, and regulated water temperatures.

Chloe said “The Natural Edge Program is a grassroots and creative approach to effectively conserve and restore the riparian zone which is the first 30 metres of a shoreline. These areas are a crucial first line of defence in protecting our waterfront communities which are seeing increased impacts from climate change and development pressures.”

“Watersheds Canada is a small team with big goals, and after 20 years, we’ve made a significant impact. This conservation award nomination by Water Canada gives us so much confidence in the work we are doing on our lakes and rivers,” said Robert Pye. 

Watersheds Canada is honoured to be recognized, and congratulates the other nominees and winners, including Connected Sensors, for their important contributions to water health, education, and policy work.

The Natural Edge Program provides the needed resources and action steps for communities to bring their shoreland back to a natural state while still making it functional for everyday use. In total since 2013, 34,000m of linear shoreline and 216,000m² of riparian habitat have been restored using 105,000 native plants across 6 provinces. If you are a landowner, community group, or municipality who wants to learn more about the importance of a natural shoreland, please visit https://naturaledge.watersheds.ca for free resources, the Native Plant Database, or to book a presentation or site visit.


Media Contact:

Robert Pye
Executive Director
Watersheds Canada