Students will be able to:
- assess a riparian area;
- describe actions to improve water quality and habitat; and
- carry out prescribed actions.
Students assess a riparian (shoreline) area and plant trees and shrubs to enhance water quality and habitat.
Site map, measuring tape, shovels, hoses or watering cans, selection of plants
Riparian zones are land/water interfaces along the banks of a river, stream, or other water body. Natural vegetation provides food and shelter for aquatic and terrestrial species, plus safe passage between natural areas. Riparian plants also:
- stabilize soil along shores, preventing erosion and sedimentation harmful to fish spawning grounds and small creatures; and
- intercept harmful fertilizers, pesticides, etc.
Identify and scout a local riparian area that needs a helping hand. Visit in spring or fall with your students. Lead them through a process to assess the area, diagnose problems, prescribe rehabilitative measures, and take action.
- Locate an eroding stream bank or lakeshore or with sparse or absent vegetation. Whether it is private or public property, it is essential that you get the appropriate permission from landowners or government bodies. Also, be sure to check for hazards like swift water.
- Sketch a map to record vital information, including:
- litter or garbage on the site
- evidence of bank erosion
- exposed tree roots, trees falling into water
- freshly eroding banks
- muddy water
- human changes to the bank
- wood or concrete retaining walls
- landfill or rock "riprap"
- natural vegetation on bank
- at least three metres wide
- of diverse types and sizes
- of reasonable density signs of wildlife
- birds, fish, crustaceans, reptiles, amphibians, insects
- tracks, nests, or other signs
- If there's litter, prescribe a clean-up.
- If the bank is eroding, prescribe stabilizing activities such as seeding and planting shrubs, and/or using rocks (riprap).
- If the bank is not natural, prescribe planting to add natural elements.
- If the bank does not have a diverse, dense, and wide zone of native vegetation, prescribe planting.
- If there are no signs of wildlife, prescribe plants to offer shelter and food (seeds and berries).
Share data and maps with another school along the watershed.
© Canadian Wildlife Federation
All rights reserved. Web site content may be electronically copied or printed for classroom, personal and non-commercial use. All other users must receive written permission.