How can a forest be important to the waters of Kwilákm?
Even seasoned nature watchers can be surprised that there are many ways that adjacent vegetation supports and enhances the lives of many marine creatures and ecosystems.
Nearshore forests play an important role in protecting shoreline properties from the impact of storms and high tides.
The diagram below highlights the many benefits of intact shoreline forest to marine ecosystems and to owners of shoreline property.
Click on the Labels to show details for each feature of the Nearshore Forest cross-section below:
Comfort and Safety
Vegetation shelters homes from strong winds and reduces possibility of shoreline erosion.
Reduces Impact of Precipitation
Vegetation slows descent of rainfall, reducing speed of surface runoff, thereby reducing slope erosion.
Vegetation and roots increase water seeping into soil, recharging groundwater.
A matrix of roots holds soil and absorbs rainwater, reducing erosion and slumping.
Evapotranspiration Dries the Soil
As trees and shrubs breathe and photosynthesize, they draw in soil moisture and release large amounts of water vapour through their leaves, increasing soil stability.
Trees and dead snags provide nesting and roosting habitat for many species of sea birds.
Overhanging branches near beaches create an ideal shaded environment for spawning forage fish eggs.
Food Source for Filter Feeders
Each autumn, tons of leaves fall onto shorelines and shallows along the shore.
Important Salmon Food Source
Wind-blown insects from seaside forests can account for up to half of the stomach contents of juvenile chum and Chinook salmon.
Waves pulverize leaves into fine particles – food for near-shore clams and mussels and providing good for diving birds.
Rotate your device to view diagram.
Managing Shoreline Erosion
Climate change in our region is resulting in more frequent and more severe winter storms, plus slowly rising sea levels. Recently, this has resulted in significant new erosion of beaches and shorelines. Scientists predict the trend will continue.
Modified Shoreline Landscape
Shoreline properties and homes adjacent to Kwilákm, built on soft shores of clay, sand, and gravel, may be threatened by storm erosion.
Many homeowners who try to protect shorelines build hard structures to hold back the sea. These measures can have unintended consequences that damage marine life and in some cases increase erosion by reflecting wave energy at the beach and nearshore area surrounding the hard structure.
Many landowners successfully protect their shoreline properties using natural materials, slopes, and plantings.
To learn more, see the Green Shores webpages located on the Stewardship Centre for British Columbia website.