Restoration of a Marsh in Domaine Taschereau

In 2009, the Corporation du Domaine du Seigneur Taschereau launched the Domaine Taschereau project to develop a recreational eco park while restoring the site’s ecological functions.

Established in 1738, most of the former Taschereau Seigneurial Estate is located in the largest wetland of the Chaudière River Valley. It was once the site of a rich aquatic ecosystem consisting of a marsh, swamps, a pond and wet grasslands, along with diverse fauna and flora. However, agriculture and urbanization contributed to the deforestation and drying of this area, resulting in the disappearance of the marsh around 1890.

Spread over a period of 10 years, the goal of the Domaine Taschereau – Nature Park project was to develop a 0.53 km2 eco park to be used for recreation, tourism and culture, and to revitalize the floodplain of the former estate by restoring the marsh that had disappeared. This revitalization was intended to restore the wetland’s ecological functions, enhance the quality of surface water and promote the site’s recreational and instructional value. The final stages of development of the park helped to increase the number of public natural sites in the area, diversify fauna ecosystems and improve the storage and filtration of surface runoffs in the context of changing water regimes linked to climate change.


Understanding and Assessing Impacts

The nature park project began in the 1990s, initially to provide more public green spaces for the local population, help to make the region more attractive and improve the local quality of life. Given that this was a floodplain of the Chaudière River watershed, with approximately one flood every month at the time, construction had previously been banned and the area had remained relatively natural, used informally by amateur birdwatchers. This context, combined with the site’s history as a seigneury back in the days of New France, drove the creation of an organization – the Corporation du Domaine du Seigneur Taschereau – to implement this project that would be beneficial to the local community. It was during the development of this project that the initiators saw an opportunity for ecological restoration and the possibility of using the future park as a water management tool.

Identifying Actions

Even before the ecological restoration initiatives began, the vision for site development was that the park would not only be accessible to the population, but it would also showcase the free-flowing and flooding nature of the water in the area. As an example, one of the first infrastructures to be built was a boardwalk, designed to remain accessible even during spring floods. It was while they were doing background research that the project initiators found the spot where a marsh had previously been and had gradually disappeared over time due to agriculture. Area farmers would bring it back to life now and then by digging the old hole in the ground. The organization therefore decided to restore the former marsh to the point of recreating the major wetland that had once been here. A series of smaller initiatives were added to the project to enhance the impact of the main project over time. For instance, the local amateur birdwatching community gathered to build an inventory of bird species seen at the site, so that an interpretation program could be designed for the park and the impacts of ecological restoration could be tracked over time.

Implementation

In terms of logistics and governance, ongoing collaboration with various stakeholders had to be sustained throughout the project. The first grand gesture was the creation of a non-profit organization, the Corporation du Domaine du Seigneur Taschereau, in the 1990s to provide project coordination. Given that the park would be springing to life in an area spanning several properties, partnership agreements needed to be put in place with the different landowners, including the City of Sainte-Marie. The municipality showed its support over the course of the project, through funding, its backing of the development of new partnerships (for example, with the local watershed organization) and the granting of permits. The municipality also facilitated the consultation and participation of the local population, which fostered the community’s support of the project. Also, the local business community supported the project from the start, working together to provide funding and project visibility.

From a technical standpoint, the project ended up consisting of the restoration of the marsh, with a surface area of 22,000 m2. After extensive excavation and land-use planning, approximately 27,000 m3 of fill was removed from the site to make room for the new marsh, named Grand marais Denis-Sylvain. The marsh was developed in such a way that it would foster the growth of an abundant and diversified fauna, while maintaining the equilibrium of the new ecosystem (e.g., a sediment control basin to prevent silting). Shallow water areas were created and seeded with 16 species of native aquatic plants. These areas serve as spawning grounds and the plants help to shelter the eggs. The shallow waters also foster nest building and provide food for some species of birds, mammals and amphibians. A fishway was built to help fish move between the marsh and the Chaudière River. Also, 900 trees and shrubs, along with 2,500 aquatic plants, were planted around the marsh so that the fauna can find nourishment, take cover and reproduce.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

The outcomes of creating the park and restoring the marsh have been varied, from the redevelopment of ecosystems to the well-being of the community of Sainte-Marie.

After more than 20 years of development, we can see that the creation of the park enabled the restoration of a 22,000 m2 marsh, the arrival of some wetland species whose status has changed from potential breeder to confirmed breeder (e.g. river otter and kingfisher), the 1,100 m3 increase in floodwater storage, the planting of 19,000 trees (particularly along the trails for visitors’ enjoyment), awareness activities in which hundreds of individuals participated, and the opening of a public natural space with great ecological value that is accessible to the entire local population, for whom it is a source of regional pride.

Next Steps

Given that construction of the park itself and restoration of the marsh were completed in 2017, no new major steps are planned for now. Minor work is planned to redirect a stream. In terms of park development, new installations are planned in the medium and long term to make it more accessible and offer more diverse activities. For example, plans are in the works for a bicycle and pedestrian path between the bike touring route and the Beshro bridge, as well as a horticultural area and a network of winter trails.

Resources

Link to Full Case Study (in french only)