South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards able to restore 300 m2 of shoreline habitat thanks to Natural Edge Program, RBC Tech for Nature support
June 2022, Saskatoon – In partnership with nine other grassroots groups across Canada, the South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards (SSRWSI is proud to have participated in the national launch of the Natural Edge Program thanks to generous funding by the RBC Foundation through RBC Tech for Nature. The Natural Edge Program was created in 2013 and piloted in Eastern and Central Ontario by Watersheds Canada, a national nonprofit and charitable organization. To date, over 177,332m2 of shoreline habitat has been naturalized through the program.
In 2021, the Natural Edge Program delivery regions expanded to include British Columbia, New Brunswick, and more areas in Saskatchewan and Ontario. Each delivery region had a trained community group who delivered the program locally. Through the Natural Edge Program this past year, the South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards naturalized two properties and restored 300m² of shoreline using 109 native plants.
“This program was easy to work with and provided great information on native plants and riparian areas for us to share,” said Alyssa Chapman, Watershed Technician at SSRWSI. “We are excited to see how our planted shorelines grow!”
Touted as a “program-in-a-box”, the Natural Edge Program provides delivery partners with the Natural Edge iOS App created by Watersheds Canada, training materials, Native Plant Database, and online administration system. Trained staff use these materials when they conduct a site visit with a landowner. As they learn more about the property and landowner’s vision for their shoreline restoration, staff use the iOS App to create a customized planting plan in real-time. These plans outline what native species of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers will be planted on the property, and where.
“We are excited to be partnering with grassroots organizations across Canada and supporting them as they bring the Program to their community” says Chloe Lajoie, Natural Edge Program Manager. Adding, “Not only has this funding from RBC Tech for Nature helped us to create new partnerships but to also make a positive impact in new watersheds across the country.”
The Natural Edge Program is a nature-based, grassroots solution for waterfront property owners and communities to use in the wake of increasing pressures due to expanding urban boundaries, human development, and climate change. A waterbody with degraded shorelines is at increased risk of:
- algae blooms and salification through increased water runoff;
- reduced terrestrial and aquatic habitat quality due to sedimentation and erosion; and
- higher water level and temperature fluctuations.
The condition of shorelines is vital to the health of a waterbody. Vegetated buffers are effective in removing up to 85% of runoff when compared to non-vegetated shorelines and are critical in mitigating the effects of climate change and human development. Through the restoration and rehabilitation of shorelines using native plant species, the Natural Edge Program addresses these issues while also being customized and aesthetically pleasing to the participating landowner.
The national launch of the Natural Edge Program was possible because of a generous donation from the RBC Foundation through RBC Tech for Nature, a global, multi-year commitment to support new ideas, technologies, and partnerships to address our most complex environmental challenges. This donation saw on-the-ground, nature-based action across Canada, benefiting hundreds of thousands of Canadians.
“At RBC, we believe in the power of innovative technologies to address and scale solutions to some of the most pressing environmental issues of our time,” said Valerie Chort, Vice-President, Corporate Citizenship & Sustainability, RBC. “We’re proud to have worked alongside the South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards and the Natural Edge Program to develop real-world, scalable solutions to tackle the challenges that continue to plague our environment.”
Landowners and community groups who are interested in learning more about the Natural Edge Program, using the free Canada-wide Native Plant Database, and downloading the free native plant care guides are encouraged to visit NaturalEdge.Watersheds.ca
About the South Saskatchewan River Watershed Stewards
The SSRWSI is a community-driven, non-profit organization working within the South Saskatchewan River watershed to implement stewardship initiatives and activities that will protect the beauty, diversity, and integrity of the watershed.
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. To learn more, visit Watersheds.ca