The project focus for the first year was put on restoring the Blindman River, an affluent of Red Deer River. Agricultural activities have led to the removal of forests and riparian areas along the river which resulted in poor water quality and stream bank erosion. Moving forward, farms in the Red Deer River Watershed will be identified for planting of riparian zone areas, ecobuffers, and silvopasture suitability to improve water quality health, provide habitat for wildlife, improve soil health and restore ecosystem services.
“We have planted over 30,000 trees on our farm over the last 30 years to help improve biodiversity, capture snow, protect livestock and improve soil health. This year, in collaboration with PUR and AWES we were able to add another 1700 trees and shrubs. Without the financial support from PUR and the technical support from AWES we would have never been to make this planting project a reality!” – Takota Coen
In this region increasingly affected by heavy flooding, the project contributes to erosion control and promotes healthy waterways and the reduction of water pollution.
As agriculture production has intensified in recent years, farmers have removed trees to expand their fields, especially around waterways, which has lead to increeased nutrient runoff into streams and the destruction of sensative environments and habitats to birds, small mammals, and pollinators.
With riparian and eco-buffer tree planting, the project will support ecosystem restoration, while providing habitat for wildlife and pollinators as well as a sheltering function to protect the farms and livestock. Trees planted in riparian zones take up excess nutrients before they enter waterways and stabilize banks from further erosion and topsoil loss.
- Water Quality: In the project area, the nutrient and bacterial concentrations in the river exceed water quality guidelines, due to excessive agricultural runoff and other land use impacts which reduce the functionality of the riparian zone. Planting trees will help to promote healthy waterways and reduce water pollution and eutrophication through the management of storm water, provision of physical barriers and the active uptake and use of excess nutrients.
- Soil Management: Tree roots and above ground structures increase soil water-holding capacity. They reduce the chance for soil loss and support soil stabilization — reducing risk of landslides, mudflows, and coastal erosion. By restoring the functionality of the riparian area, trees will support flood control in a region increasingly affected by this kind of climatic event.
- Biodiversity Habitat: The newly planted trees will form a riparian forest that will help to promote and support the diversity of the Alberta flora and fauna. This region has seen the natural habitat for bears, elk, deer and other fauna decrease due to increase development. It is the hope of the project to provide some natural areas for these animals to again thrive. Forest ecosystems help to regulate pests and prevent diseases that attack plants, animals and people.
- Farm protection: Trees planting in the edges of the farms have a sheltering function, protecting the farm and livestock from the wind and snow. They provide privacy and security benefits to the landowners.
- Aninam Welfare: By providing wind breaks, protection from the elements, and visual barriers to roads and other stressors, properly planted trees can provide shelter and important stress reduction for livestock. Tree crops can also be used as a source of natural grazing fodder, or harvested for use in engineered fodder.
LocationRed Deer River Watershed, Province of Alberta
Agroforestry and reforestation
Local partnerAgroforestry & Woodlot Extension Society (AWES)
ParticipantsScmall-scale cattle farmers
Achievements23,806 planted trees