Located in the community of Flamborough within the City of Hamilton, Flamborough Centre Park is where Conservation Halton restored an empty park into a treed wetland, as it would have appeared and functioned in its natural state. This project was designed to reduce flooding, provide wildlife habitat, increase opportunities for recreation and improve the quality of water flowing into Grindstone Creek.
Flamborough Centre Park, which is owned by the City of Hamilton, has a “seasonal high water table.” This means that the area is prone to flooding, which has made it difficult for the community to use the park for recreation, and it has been a challenge for the city to maintain the park. Before the area was turned into a park, it was a swamp, which is a wetland with specific kinds of trees—deciduous, in this case. Conservation Halton partnered with City of Hamilton to restore a small part of the area to this swamp ecosystem, in order to reduce flooding and create habitat for wildlife.
The restoration area at Flamborough Centre Park is about 2 hectares (4.9 acres) the park. In order to return the area to its natural state as a treed wetland, Conservation Halton removed a portion of the topsoil, created a shallow wetland, added “pit and mound” features, and planted the area with native species that are tolerant of wet ground conditions.
Pit and Mound Forest
The first phase of the restoration at Flamborough Park started with the creation of 0.5 hectares (1.2 acres) of “pit and mound” reforestation. The “pit and mound” approach is used to create the kind of topography that would be found on the floor of an old growth forest, which would take decades to establish on its own. Naturally, this landscape would be created when trees with shallow roots were uprooted during a storm. As a result, the raised mass of roots and soil would become a mound, and then fill with water to form a pit. Conservation Halton created 30 small “pit and mounds” and two larger “pit and mounds,” each with a slightly different shape and size to provide a more natural appearance.
After the “pit and mounds” were created, a series of wildlife habitat features were installed. Salvaged wood debris, such as logs and branches, were placed around the “pit and mound” features. This wood debris will serve as natural habitat for wildlife, and when it breaks down as organic matter, it will provide nutrients to the soil. Conservation Halton also installed a number of “perching poles” for birds to use for resting and feeding.
|Tree Species||Shrub Species||Wildflowers||Nut Planting|
|Silver Maple||Highbrush Cranberry||Swamp Milkweed||Swamp White Oak|
|Eastern White Cedar||Spicebush||Cardinal Flower||Burr Oak|
|American Sycamore||Nannyberry||Wild Bergamot||Swamp White x Burr Hybrid|
|Trembling Aspen||Red Osier Dogwood||Spotted Joe-Pye Weed|
|Red Maple||Various Willows||Blue Flag Iris|
The first phase of the restoration at Flamborough Park included a 0.5 hectares (1.2 acres) area converted from an empty field into a marsh ecosystem. This deeper kind of wetland will hold water for a longer period of time during the summer, but it will dry out as the groundwater table draws down.
Habitat features, such as sunning logs and brush piles, were added for native species to rest, lay their eggs and hide from predators. The native trees and shrubs that were planted in the area around the wetland will attract insects, which will provide food for amphibians, birds, and turtles. Also, large wood debris, like tree trunks, branches and logs, will provide habitat for a range of organisms, including plants, mosses, lichens, insects and small animals.
After the 0.5 hectare wetland was constructed and more than 40 habitat features were installed, Conservation Halton planted more than 1,200 native wetland plants, such as Marsh Marigold and White Turtlehead, and more than 1000 trees and shrubs in the 1.0 hectare area surrounding the new wetland. These native species will help to further reduce flooding through the process of “evapotranspiration,” which is the release of water vapor by plants into the atmosphere.
The Big Picture
Estimates suggest that the amount of wetland in Ontario has decreased by more than 80 percent. Wetlands are an important part of a healthy watershed, and provide valuable ecosystem services, such as reducing flooding, preventing erosion, protecting our drinking water, providing habitat for wildlife and creating opportunities for recreation. The restoration at Flamborough Centre Park underscores the critical role that wetlands have in providing these services, and their ability to strengthen our resilience to climate change.
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