Creating Riparian Habitat Along a Drainage Ditch in the Kawartha Lakes

  • Kailee Marland University of Victoria


The creation of a riparian zone along the drainage ditch and surrounding area was funded by a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation received by the Kawartha Land Trust. The site had been previously assessed by the author and the information was used to complete this project. The ditch was naturally divided into 3 sections. Sixty-one, 4m by 4m plots were planted with one tree and 3-5 shrubs each. Trees and shrubs were selected with emphasis on site conditions, ecology of the area, and their ability to provide food and create habitat. Over time, the shrubs should spread out and the tree canopies should close over between the plots. One side of each ditch section was planted with wildflowers. However, the success of this is uncertain due to insufficient site preparation. The wildflowers allow continued access to the ditch and increase the diversity of the otherwise grass-dominated habitat. Volunteers did all the planting over two days. Each tree received rodent and deer protection along with a mycorrhizal inoculant. Future recommendations included planting more shrubs and trees closer to the stream, stream assessment and improvement, adding herbaceous species to the existing plots and adding more plots to create forested areas. As the trees and shrubs mature the area will meet the objectives of improving habitat, providing food and contribute to preventing runoff from entering the stream and flowing into the nearby wetland. Having a variety of habitats on agricultural land including, woodlands, wetlands and riparian areas, provides many services to both the farmer and the surrounding ecosystem.

Technical Papers