Protecting wetlands & fresh water in Collingwood

Georgian Bay Forever is thankful for the support of the RBC Blue Water Project to help eradicate invasive Phragmites from Collingwood's provincially significant coastal wetlands. The Breathing New Life to Collingwood Beaches initiative is focused on reducing invasive Phragmites which threatens biodiversity, habitat for threatened species, and wetland functionality. The RBC Blue Water Project helps protect the world’s most precious natural resource: fresh water. Since 2007, RBC has pledged nearly C$44 million to more than 740 charitable organizations worldwide that protect watersheds and promote access to clean drinking water, with an additional $8.8 million pledged to universities for water programs.
RBC has just released an important 2016 Canadian Water Attitudes Study , that reinforces the need to protect water. Please read the highlights of this report and about Breathing New Life to Collingwood Beaches.

1 in 4 Canadians have experienced a boil water advisory

That's an alarming finding in RBC's 9th Canadian Water Attitudes Study that also shows that Canadians view fresh water as the country's most important resource. Not only is it a source of essential drinking water for our families, the study also confirms that we enjoy swimming, and spending time on the beach.

Invasive Phragmites australis, or European Common Reed seriously threatens all these activities that we enjoy and need from our water - and endangers many species that share it. Its effects include:

  • Severely limiting access to beaches or swallowing them up through its high density, extreme height, and ability to grow and spread quickly
  • Diminishing the normal functioning of wetlands which act as a water filter
  • Reducing the habitat for many native and threatened species which can't survive in the thick thatch of Phragmites stands. Native plant biodiversity is also severely impacted by the release of a kind of toxin by Phragmites that can kill other plants, and allows it to successfully develop into a mono culture.

2016 RBC Canadian Water Attitudes Study:

Read the results of the full survey of what Canadians concerns around our water.

While there are most certainly important and urgent roles for government, industry, and municipalities to take in protecting water; we as individuals can also be effective in solving fresh water issues. The Breathing New Life to Collingwood Beaches is a continuing example of all these forces joining together to defeat an invasive plant that is a fresh water problem.
In 2015, 8000 kilograms of invasive Phragmites were removed from Collingwood's Coastal shorelines!

How was this done? The Breathing New Life to Collingwood Beaches Initiative
The RBC Blue Water project provided $50,000 to enable Georgian Bay Forever to work with an amazing team in 2015 that cut 70% of the targeted Phragmites stands in the coastal wetlands in Collingwood; and work on removal projects in other parts of Georgian Bay.

It takes great collaboration and hours of physical labour to tackle this plant without damaging the aquatic environment. Members of the team are trained in a selective cut process where most of the green parts of the plant are cut away and removed before they can disperse their seeds, and without the use of chemicals that could get into the water.

GBF is extremely thankful to the RBC Blue Water Project (Royal Bank of Canada Foundation) and these project partners:

Great progress has been made- but we can't stop now! How can you help?
  • This August 2016, a second round of cutting is planned to remove remaining invasive Phragmites and new growth from Collingwood's coastal wetlands identified in the project. Volunteer to join this amazing team of partners and local citizens to help your community and it's precious wetlands. An update on progress will follow at the end of 2016 and future plans.
  • Donate to Georgian Bay Forever, a Canadian charity dedicated to scientific research and projects that protect Georgian Bay. Your donations enable us to work with communities to fight Phragmites all across Georgian Bay, and work on water protection and research projects involving water levels , ecosystems , and water quality.

To see some of the natural biodiversity in Collingwood that the team above is fighting for, click on this 5 minute video from the Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority.