An Alternative Planting Approach at Acreages South of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
In the past 25 years, acreages around Saskatoon, Saskatchewan have been increasing, where stakeholders plant turf grass and tree rows of non-indigenous species, further reducing the remnant range of biodiverse grasslands historic to the region. In the Hamlet of Beaver Creek, 12 kilometres south of Saskatoon, however, remnant prairies and their trophic webs still exist within a stabilized dune complex. Working with local community members at three separate lots in Beaver Creek, we are developing habitat plantings of indigenous plants using propagation methods and locally sourced plant material to: 1) enhance biodiversity through habitat creation and better practices, 2) increase habitat connectivity, and 3) engage and inform stakeholders of natural ecosystems in their local region. Implementation trials were completed as plantings of native plants, including shrubs, coarse woody debris, and direct seed plantings to a treed shelterbelt, a biodiverse shrub community using live stake cuttings, and an invaded grassland community treated with live stake cuttings and direct seeding. The plantings addressed absent vegetative layers of previously established plantings for improved local ecosystem functioning, and consist of 5-10 carefully selected species at each site based on availability, suitability to site conditions, and applicability for each of the planting methods. Recognition of grassland species struggling after habitat destruction is increasing in our partners with participation and education, such as through learning about associations between birds and the invertebrates they forage on for reproduction. We discuss the collaborative and on-ground methods here, and review the development of community engagement and education as pivotal aspects of ecosystem restoration.