Restoring a Fragile Ecosystem: Marram Grass Planting

A little rain did not stop a group of eager boy scouts from the important task of dune restoration on Saturday, October 26th.  We would like to thank Dave Featherstone from the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority for his participation and coordination of the restoration work.

Marram Grass Planting 2013

Marram Grass Planting 2013

Wasaga Beach Provincial Park (WBPP) is a unique provincial park, home to some of the rarest ecological attributes, including coastal sand dunes.  Coastal sand dune systems are considered to be one of the most fragile ecosystems in Canada.  Not only does WBPP have some of the most ancient, rare and well protected parabolic dune systems in all of Canada, it is also a relict beach formed over 6000 years ago.  Relict beaches are ancient beaches that contain nonrenewable sand; once the sand is swept away it is never replaced, disappearing from the system forever.

Beach vegetation is an essential component in sustaining our beaches, preventing erosion, forming and maintaining dunes, and providing significant habitat for many species.  Sand dunes and beach vegetation are both extremely sensitive to human activities; even the slightest disturbance can expose them and lead to erosion.

Restoration takes place in autumn once the plants have become dormant, ensuring a higher chance of survival during transplantation.  The Marram Grass plugs used by the Boy Scouts were from areas of the beach where high densities of it exist and were then transplanted to Beach Area 6.  Once planted, Marram Grass will begin to collect sand blown around its base, this in turn stimulates its growth upward and outward, making it well suited for the ever-changing dunes system to which it has adapted itself.  Each year, as more sections of the beach undergo dune restoration projects, we are better able to promote native species diversity and to provide habitat for a number of endangered species on the shores of Wasaga Beach.

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