Phosphorus is one of the nutrient pollutants found in runoff and the greatest threat to clean water in Lake Champlain. It mainly comes from farm runoff, fertilizers from lawns, sediments from eroded river banks, wastewaters and overflows.
Too much phosphorus pollution stimulates excessive growth of algae. It can turn Lake Champlain water green, and even be toxic to pets and people. Local stakeholders are very concerned and focusing attention and resources to stabilize the lake. They need to reduce phosphorous levels by 50-60%.
The project therefore has 3 main goals:
Restore Riparian Areas:
– Plant trees in riparian buffers & windbreaks to reduce flooding and water runoff
– Provide shade on the waterways, lowering the temperatures, benefiting the trout population
– Add trees who can naturally help to absorb and reduce nitrates and sulphates in the water
Integration of tree in farms:
– Plant several species of trees adapted to the local agricultural systems to increase ecosystem services from trees to farmers: soil enrichment (reducing the needs for fertilizers), micro-climate to face droughts, shade for animals, protection to strong winds and storms…
– Diversify revenues and enhance local production: sugar maple, apples, nuts, berries…
Education and Awareness:
– Build awareness on sustainable agricultural practices and water protection
– Train farmers on the techniques and benefits of integrating trees in and around farms
MODEL 1: PLANTATIONS ON RIVER BANKS
Restoration of riparian buffers
Reduce flooding and water runoff, provide shade on the waterways, help to absorb and reduce nitrates and sulphates in the water
MODEL 2: PLANTATIONS INTO FARMS
Combination of trees with agricultural and/or livestock activities in the same parcel
Diversify revenues, enhance the direct environmental services provided by trees: soil enrichment, reduction of soil erosion, regulation of micro-climate, pollination, integrated pest control…
Agroforestry and reforestation
Established in 1875, the American Forestry Association is the oldest group in North America organized to promote forest conservation. The organization became American Forests (AF) in 1992.
AF works as a catalyst to create large-scale projects focused on forests and water conservation.
Since 1990, AF organized the plantation of 50 million trees around the world.
In the Vermont project, the plantations will be coordinated locally by the Conservation District to provide seedlings and technical assistance to the farmers.
Planted species are all native plants chosen based on soil type and the associated natural plant communities. Maple, cherry, willow, and poplar are among the planting lists but there are other native species as options.
The trees will be sourced from local nurseries. The conservation district (local partner) is co-managing a new nursery they have set up in the watershed that will be able to provide local genetic stock of native plants by 2017.
Participating farmers are small, primarily dairy farms.
The acreage size area varies, but in most cases the area to be planted is 1-3 acres (0.5-1.5 ha).
Most are conventional farms, not organic. Integrating trees will help to manage sustainably the farm activities.