Q. If we just left the field alone wouldn’t it just restore itself?

A. Maybe.

Generally speaking with enough time and without human intervention the field will definitely change to something else….indeed it is already doing that with small aspen, birch, spruce and pine seedlings establishing in from the edges along with rose and other understory plants. If we left it alone these species would definitely creep further in.

Other areas of the field that have poorer or drier soils may persist (at least for a fair chunk of time) with non-native invasive species such as Hawkweed dominating the area — and the few invasive thistles currently creeping into the field may get a foothold and spread out to other areas.

Laying out monitoring plots

Managing for ecological values in a protected area means thinking about and actively managing ecosystems to combat the human footprint — and this is particularly the case when the broader ecosystem around the area has been heavily altered (by human settlement and by pine beetle) and is under even more stress as climate change alters temperature and precipitation.

The Eskers field is a small but manageable project that we can tackle in partnership to try and restore, in a climate-change conscious way. In doing that it also makes sense to learn as we go:

  • what are the ecological conditions pre: restoration actions?
  • how do the different treatments work?
  • what is growing back? where? how much?
  • how do our restoration activities compare to areas we haven’t restored?

Monitoring baseline conditions and then repeated monitoring of conditions are part of the activities that we are undertaking in the area.

One grass, two grass, three grass, four….