Building innovative native planting strategies
With range site capability (the type of plant community an area is best suited to) as a guide, NPS designs native revegetation strategies for areas ranging in size from 1 to 1,000 acres. Building on Ducks Unlimited Canada’s 70 years of experience and sound science in wetland and environmental conservation, NPS has become the industry leader in:
Native Plant Solutions (NPS) develops and installs native plant material for a wide variety of clientele including engineers, government and land developers. Applications include riparian revegetation, ‘Brownfield’ reclamation, as well as urban public areas and multifunctional ‘storm water retention wetlands’.
Through Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), NPS draws on over 70 years of experience in wetland creation, restoration and management. Historically, DUC’s efforts have been aimed at creating wildlife habitat, usually in rural areas. While still maintaining this capability, most of NPS’s recent work has been in the city. NPS, through partnering with local landscape architects, has advanced and implemented the idea of integrating functional and floristically diverse wetland and upland plant communities into suburban water management. Noticeable benefits of the ‘wetland’ approach to storm water management include cost savings, less maintenance, natural aesthetics and improved water quality.
NPS designs and installs plantings for critical areas such as the riparian zone. NPS has pioneered various techniques in ‘greening’ hard structures used for bank stabilization, such as RIPRAP, and continues to refine these techniques.
For NPS, a key step in the design stage of any project is to conduct site assessments to determine critical pathways in achieving a client’s objectives. Once the site has been assessed, NPS staff can develop a preliminary design or ‘proof-of-concept’ for the client. NPS staff should be involved from early stages of the project to help clients identify efficiencies and innovations that save time and money.
NPS offers ‘turn-key’ project management capability, working with its clients to develop the most efficient and effective schedule of activities to yield a product that meets or exceeds expectations. Developing the planting design is an important part of this process. NPS is also highly experienced in identifying the critical steps related to site preparation, which must be planned and coordinated prior to planting.
The staff at NPS drawn on years of research and applied ecology when taking on a particular native revegetation project. NPS manuals and workshops provide basic information on native plants and demonstrate that revegetating with native plant materials can be successful when the proper expertise is applied.
The services and products of NPS fit well with legislated ‘best management practices’ (BMP’s) in numerous jurisdictions. Examples of BMP’s implemented through the work of NPS include; nutrient buffer strips, wetland creation, and the experienced use of erosion control materials. NPS has also developed innovative techniques in preventing siltation in riparian areas through the integration of site-appropriate plant material and various forms of geo-textile material.
EcovarsTM are a line of native plant varieties developed from local native species, for local use. Development of Ecovars began 2 decades ago as a DUC initiative. In the past, DUC had struggled to find large quantities of native seed appropriate to the environmental conditions of (climate, soil, pathogens, precipitation) of DUC projects on the northern Great Plains. The development of the EcovarTM established a diverse range of native grassland species, derived from local germplasm and fully adapted to the environment in which they are intended to grow. The number of available EcovarTM species continues to grow.
NPS is highly experienced in identifying the sequence of steps that must be planned and coordinated prior to planting. This includes construction site supervision and quality control at the job site as well as contract management ranging from small to large-scale vegetation projects.
Native vegetation is low-maintenance, not ‘no’ maintenance. Properly installed native grasses do not typically require water or fertilizer inputs, but the accumulated ‘litter’ or decaying matter from previous seasons, should be removed (managed) once every few years. When developing a management plan, NPS can conduct stand health assessments determine the timing, scheduling and type of maintenance activity required. There are various types of management tools, including prescribed burning, which NPS staff have pioneered and applied in both rural and urban settings.