Fish Creek Provincial Park, a stunning natural gem that spans over 1,300 hectares in southern Calgary, Alberta, is a cherished destination for outdoor enthusiasts, birdwatchers, and those seeking solace in nature.
On September 21st, 2023, approximately 35 employees from Wawanesa Insurance, in collaboration with community members and park staff, gathered to plant 250 trees and shrubs, supporting the park’s Poplar Forest Stewardship plan. This collective effort will increase the diversity of woody vegetation and the poplars’ ages to create a greener, more resilient future for the park.
Established in 1992, Friends of Fish Creek Provincial Park Society engages the community through activities and awareness to conserve a truly unique naturalized urban park. With an annual visitation of approximately 1.2 million people, the involvement of the Friends of Fish Creek Park is vital in preserving the park.
“Since the park is here now, we want to preserve it to make sure it’s still a beautiful place to visit in the future,” expressed Dylan Barnes, Citizen Science and Stewardship Coordinator for the Poplar Forest Stewardship project.
Fewer Floods = Fewer Poplars
Poplars, which are indigenous to prairie regions, frequently thrive alongside streams or rivers, offering sustenance for wildlife and a shaded retreat for both animals and humans. They also play a crucial role in fortifying riverbanks and preventing erosion during flood events. Friends of Fish Creek Park actively engages in planting poplar trees in vulnerable riparian areas to help rejuvenate and restore these ecosystems.
Apart from the exceptional devastation caused by the 2013 floods, Barnes has observed a decreased occurrence of flooding in recent decades. Poplars traditionally depend on flooding for reproduction, but the reduced frequency has led to the formation of a poplar forest characterized by trees of the same age. These trees are approaching the end of their lifecycle, and certain areas exhibit a noticeable absence of natural regeneration.
Planting trees is therefore important to help keep Fish Creek Park healthy, as Barnes explains:
“We plant trees to supply that missing population, that way we have trees […] growing up to replace them and it won’t just turn into an empty field.”
A Collaborative Planting Event
The September tree planting event held near the Bow River featured the planting of various tree species, including Balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), Tritis poplar (Populus x tristis), and Peachleaf willow (Salix amygdaloides). This was a collaborative effort, organized as part of Tree Canada’s Partners in Planting program, involving dedicated volunteers, corporate partner Wawanesa Insurance as part of their Wawanesa Climate Champions program, and the active support of Friends of Fish Creek Park.
Notably, the collaboration with the community stands out as a crucial element for Friends of Fish Creek, as emphasized by Barnes, “We are very fortunate to have as much help [from the community] as we do because all the work in the park wouldn’t be possible without them.”
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