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. The Red Deer River area is also highly and increasingly affected by significant flooding events. Finally, maintaining and promoting biodiversity in the region is key to support native species and healthy ecosystems. As a consequence, the Red Deer River Watershed area is particularly relevant to develop an ecosystem restoration project addressing these issues through riparian and eco-buffer tree planting.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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