The Niagara Restoration Council, through its “Building Stream Buffers for Niagara’s Rivers” project has ensured the use of community resources and partnerships to ‘protect, maintain and actively restore the integrity of the Niagara River Ecosystem’. Thanks to the generous contributions of volunteer labour provided by many local schools, nature clubs, concerned citizens and volunteer groups, the NRC has planted thousands of native shrubs and wildflowers in several designated “no-mow” buffer zones, in public parks and golf courses within the region.
Riparian vegetation along watercourses can provide significant benefits to water quality, through the filtration of overland flow, and stabilization and protection of river banks against soil erosion. Stream side plants also offer many species, including dragonflies, butterflies, waterfowl, and mammals, high quality coverage and foraging habitat.
Since the project commenced, riparian buffer strips have been planted along several watercourses in the region, including those in various public parks in the City of Welland (Maple Park, Willson Road Park, Welland Soccer Club, and Harold Bradshaw Park), and in several golf courses (Rio Vista Golf Club, Pelham Hills Golf and Country Club, Caistorville Golf Club, and Links of Niagara at Willodell).
Many of these locations are now identified with signage portraying the beneficial functions of riparian vegetation. In addition to serving a very important ecological function, these buffers provide a great opportunity to publicly demonstrate that native plant species can look beautiful, while serving an invaluable ecological purpose.
Recent funding for this project has been graciously received from various sources including the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund, a component of the Federal Government’s Great Lakes program that provides resources to be used in the demonstration and implementation of technologies and techniques towards the remediation of ‘Areas of Concern’, as well as other priority areas in the Great Lakes.
Funding in 2004-2005 for this project was also received from the Toronto Dominion Friends of the Environment Foundation, a program through TD Canada Trust, which seeks to support the efforts of Canadians who are dedicated towards the well-being of the environment.
Past funding for this project has also come from The Niagara Community Foundation. The Niagara Community Foundation serves the people of the Niagara peninsula by building permanently endowed charitable funds for the changing needs and opportunities of the community, making grants, and providing leadership that contributes to the health and vitality of the community.