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Point Pelee Marsh Restoration Tackles Invasive Species

By on July 21, 2021 0

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A battle against bitter intruders is taking place at Point Pelee National Park.

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Canada’s second smallest national park is fighting to restore the health of its marsh, home to 19 species at risk and endangered native plants, through a long and meticulous process of marsh restoration.

“The swamp is very important to the area,” said resource conservation technician Emma Burbidge during a virtual lunch and learning session on Wednesday called Open Marsh, Healthy Marsh.

“There is only about 2% wetland cover left in Essex County, which means the park truly represents one of the few remaining areas for all the plants and animals that depend on wetlands for. survive in the area.

Right now the wildlife is in danger

“Overall, the swamp is just a very, very, very important habitat, but unfortunately it is also under threat.”

The Point Pelee Marsh covers approximately 1,000 hectares or approximately 2,200 football fields and comprises over two-thirds of the park.

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Burbidge said erosion and development have taken a toll on water quality, habitat diversity, and flora and fauna.

Once part of a larger wetland that encompassed 3,330 hectares of marshland that stretched north to Hillman Marsh, drainage and diking disconnected the two areas.

The marsh, the largest and most diverse habitat on Point Pelee, provides protection and resting place for migratory birds as well as a refuge for snakes, turtles, fish, mammals, invertebrates, birds and plants.

But the invasive cattail and European Common Reed, otherwise known as Phragmites, create dense stands that flush out open water, smother native plants, decrease biodiversity, and hamper wildlife.

Burbidge said open water habitat in the marsh has been reduced by 10% or 100 hectares since the 1950s.

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“As we lose open water, we lose open water habitat,” she said. “And we’re also losing edge habitat, which is habitat that sits between open water and vegetation.

“If you lose these habitats, you lose the overall diversity of habitat and in turn you lose… biodiversity.”

Staff have focused since 2018 on conserving and restoring the health of the marsh, using a variety of tools, including the application of herbicides to plants on land and hand cutting of Phragmites below the line. water to drown the plants.

This summer, two aquatic machines will be put into service, a vegetation cutter and a weed puller, to open channels and ponds in the marsh.

Burbidge said the goal by 2022 is to create at least eight hectares or 8,000 square meters of open water and at least 3,000 meters of edge habitat by removing invasive cattails and Phragmites.

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Some of the plant material that is removed is strategically placed for habitat mounds, but much of it is burnt.

“Right now the wildlife is in danger. Our biodiversity is at risk because we are losing very, very important open water and edge habitat, ”she said. “So by creating these canals and ponds… and managing these dense invasive Phragmites, we will benefit native plants and animals. “

The new canals will also create new canoe and kayak routes for park visitors.

  1. Carrie Ann Peters, Cultural Development Coordinator with Caldwell First Nations, at the new Madbin Jina sign at a renowned location in Point Pelee National Park on Friday October 2, 2020. The new name, Madbin Jina, invites visitors to come and 'sit down for a while'.

    Point Pelee Invites Visitors to ‘Sit A Moment’ in Honor of Caldwell First Nation

  2. The Point Pelee National Park boardwalk and marsh is featured on July 10, 2019.

    Request for public comment on the draft Point Pelee management plan

And it is hoped that wildlife viewing will be enhanced with access and more plants and animals thriving in the new environment.

Visitors to help with the project by uploading comments to inaturalists.org or ebird.org, sites monitored by personnel.

To view the Open Marsh, Health Marsh presentation, in English or French, visit the Point Pelee Facebook page. For more information visit www.pc.gc.ca/fr/pn-np/on/pelee/nature/conservation/marais-marais.

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