Tree Planting for Riparian Zone Development

The Antigonish Rivers Association has increased focus on tree planting projects with the goal of restoring some buffer zones (riparian zones) along our waterways. The riparian zone provides many ecological benefits that are essential for a healthy aquatic ecosystem including but not limited to providing cover to shade the watercourse and keep temperatures low in the summer months as well as providing leaf litter that feeds a vast majority of life within the river systems. Antigonish County has a great deal of farm land adjacent to our rivers and streams that, in the past, had been cleared right up to the banks of the watercourse to allow for high crop yields and livestock grazing. ARA has been working with several farmers in the area to rebuild riparian zones along waterways and fencing off those areas to ensure the newly planted saplings are not trampled by livestock or mowed over.

Tree Planting Process

Most people only see the final result of our tree planting efforts which is the trees planted at each site, but there is lots of work that goes into preparing trees to plant. The types of trees we plant are species that favor riparian habitats such as willow, red maple, stripped maple, red oak, and white pines. All of our willows that we plant are clipped early in the spring from older trees and planted for about a month or so until they start to grow roots. Once the willow clippings develop some roots, they can be potted and cared for until the following year when they are hardy enough to be planted. Our members keep busy with locating saplings of various species to be transplanted into pots and care for them until a riparian restoration site is identified and is ready to plant. Along with planting the clippings and saplings in the ground, we require wooden stakes and metal fencing to set up around each tree to ensure the trees are not mowed over as well as avoiding browsing by hungry animals.

Several years ago, the ARA, under the guidance of Nick MacInnis, started a native tree nursery to supply our future projects with good quality trees that are native to this area. The nursery allows ARA to collect clippings and grow saplings, which would otherwise cost a significant amount of money to purchase and transport. The ARA is now able to provide trees for each project at a minimal cost ensuring more funding goes directly to in-stream restoration work.

Trees Planted & Riparian Area Restored

2017: 400 trees planted/4,000 sq. meters restored

2018: 1,350 trees planted/ 6,000 sq. meters restored

2019: 350 trees planted/ 6,350 sq. meters restored

2020: 300 trees planted/6,000 sq. meters restored

2021: 1,080 trees planted/24,500 sq. meters restored