Sections of many parks and open spaces in Calgary are being naturalized through the reintroduction of native plant species as The City takes actions toward meeting a key biodiversity goal of restoring 20 per cent of its open spaces by 2025.
Naturalized spaces have many benefits including a greater ability to respond to extreme weather and climate change, potential for lower maintenance costs and the creation of habitat for urban wildlife. Naturalization also brings beauty to our urban environment, creating new spaces for citizens to connect with nature.
Learn about four municipal habitat restoration projects.
16 Avenue N.E.
The City began work on the 16 Avenue Roadside Naturalization pilot site in 2020 to establish a more natural self-sustaining space, reduce non-native invasive plant species and provide a habitat for bees and other native pollinators. This naturalization pilot will run for four years and end in 2024. The 16 Avenue Roadside Naturalization program supports Calgary City Council priorities by exploring the cost-effectiveness of naturalized landscaping with the aim of minimizing maintenance costs and maximizing the environmental benefits for City-owned land over the long-term.
In 2017, Parks identified a small escarpment in Bridgeland that was filled with caragana, a non-native species, that tends to choke out native plants. To help restore the Bridgeland Escarpment to a more natural state, the caragana was removed and replaced with a mixture of native grasses and plants suited to the dry, windswept conditions of the slope.
Shrubby Cinquefoil, Wolf Willow, Rocky Mountain fescue, and Blue Flax are just a few of the native species now established here. The deep rooting native shrubs and plants help control erosion and contribute to the beauty and biodiversity of the escarpment. This small park has been transformed into a natural asset in the community, as a place to enjoy nature and the wonderful view of our city below.
Memorial Drive is a cherished corridor with many projects supporting its legacy as a living memorial to Calgary’s history. In the spring of 2019, the City began naturalizing this site to establish a more natural self-sustaining space, reduce non-native invasive plant species and provide habitat for native pollinators.
Manicured turf grasses were replaced with salt-tolerant native grasses, plants and shrubs, and additional wildflowers were seeded. The native vegetation chosen for this area also provides valuable resources for pollinators along this busy urban corridor.
In 2015, a small isolated natural area within a manicured park in Coach Hill was found to be filled with non-native caragana. With the goal of restoring the site to a native grassland-type setting, Calgary Parks began by removing the caragana.
In 2016 and 2017, rocks and large pieces of mulched caragana were removed and the weeds were sprayed and pulled. In 2018-2019, a native grass turf mat was laid down and trees, shrubs and wildflowers were planted. At the west end of the site is an existing patch of aspen poplar that was further restored by planting shrubs in the understory.