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Our Mission

To understand the effectiveness of urban native ecosystem rebuilding compared to natural areas, and to communicate best practices to the public, municipalities and industry.

Our Projects

Larch Park

Project Overview

Larch Park is an Edmonton residential development applying ecological theory and ecosystem restoration practices to rebuild native ecosystems rather than horticultural turf communities. It is being built on an old-field in Edmonton’s ‘table-lands’, the flat areas above river and stream ravine valleys (Figure 1 shows the location relative to the rest of Edmonton).

Figure 1. Map of Larch Park’s location in Edmonton. Image made by IBI Group.

To ensure ecological accuracy, native plant installation is based on models developed from the analysis of natural areas with minimum disturbance from urbanization or farming. The first phase of native ecosystem building is the creation of an 8800 m2 Storm Water Management Facility (SWMF).The ecosystem of the SWMF is based on the Rough-Fescue Prairie, Aspen Parkland ecoregion that Edmonton resides within, and the Ravine valleys within Edmonton. Larch Park is unique because it is beside the White Mud Creek Ravine valley, which is host to a biologically diverse Spruce – Aspen Mixed Forest remnant. Because the majority of the table-lands neighbouring ravine valleys in the Edmonton area have been extirpated, there is no current model for the species composition of the area. However, there would likely have been plant species from both mixed forests and prairie communities.

The SWMF has been divided into four ecosystem types according to where they are most likely to be found based on environmental characteristics, and to ensure that the species needed for a robust community are present (Figure 2).

 

Rough-Fescue Grasslands have been installed at the North side of the pond. This is the section that will receive the greatest amount of sunlight, leading to evaporation, which may reduce the success of forest species. In the central area of the pond near the water, Black Spruce will be installed on both East and West shores. White Spruce will be installed higher up the slope near the property line. Aspen and other deciduous species are also being installed, creating a mixed-wood forest.

For more information on the rest of the Larch Park project, click here.

Moving Forward – The Role of the Urban Ecology Committee

Larch Park is a joint venture between Melcor Developments Ltd. and Arctos & Bird. IBI Group is responsible for project management, and Michael Rawson Clark of Clark Ecoscience and Sustainability is responsible for applying ecological principles.

A major component of this project is long-term monitoring. Students from the University of Alberta will investigate the success of establishing the desired native ecosystems. Will the SWMF ecosystems have ecosystem services similar to those of native ecosystems used as models? Students will come to understand the importance of including ecological principles in urban development, connect the greater community, and ensure Edmontonians understand the impacts of urbanization and land use on ecosystems. Knowledge generated from study of Larch Park will be communicated to Edmontonians and other interested groups, governments and companies.