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Prince Edward Island National Park of Canada

Ecological restoration in Prince Edward Island National Park

Parks Canada received funding under a special project to improve ecological health in Prince Edward Island National Park and national historic sites in Prince Edward Island. Making gains in ecological integrity is a priority for Parks Canada, and we are pleased to invest a portion of these funds in the following projects in Prince Edward Island National Park:

Dune Restoration - Cavendish

Parks Canada ecologists have been undertaking a restoration project in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island National Park, to recover a dune blowout that had been used for beach access.

To restore the structure and function of the dune, as well as improve ecological integrity in Prince Edward Island National Park, dead coniferous trees are used in the dune blowout to act as a natural catchment for blowing sand.

Dune restoration work at PEI National Park
© Parks Canada
Parks Canada staff "planting" dead coniferous trees in sand dune
© Parks Canada

As sand accumulates around the trees, the trees will provide structure and nutrients to the growing dune. A combination of anchoring trees upright by "planting" them in the sand and laying some trees down in the blowout are used to maximize the potential of this restoration effort.

Measuring sticks have been erected in five locations in the dune blowout to monitor the sand that accumulates in the blowout after being captured in the trees, branches, and needles.

Parks Canada staff "planting" dead coniferous trees in sand dune
© Parks Canada
Measuring sticks for monitoring sand accumulation
© Parks Canada

Acadian Forest Restoration - Farmlands Trail

Parks Canada is pleased to work with the Friends of Covehead and Brackley Bay Watershed Group to improve biodiversity along the Farmlands Trail in Prince Edward Island National Park by restoring native Acadian forest species. Work on this project began in early October 2013 and is now complete, with the exception of replanting which will be carried out in the spring.


The 2007 Parks Canada management plan for PEI National Park identified Acadian forest restoration as a priority to increase the ecological integrity of the forest ecosystem. When Prince Edward Island National Park was created in 1937, much of the new park land was used for agriculture and had been cleared of the traditional mixed Acadian Forest. Over the past 75 years, these former fields grew up in primarily white spruce, with few other species typical of Acadian forest.

Parks Canada has been taking an active role in attempting to restore Acadian forests by planting species that are missing today. Underplanting existing forests and restoration of former trails are some methods used to date in Prince Edward Island National Park. In addition to the initiative with the Friends of Covehead and Brackley Bay Watershed Group, other low intensity forestry and restoration approaches will be implemented over the next 5 years as part of this special project.

Project Description

Strip cuts and small patch cuts create gaps in the canopy that produce temperature and moisture conditions well suited for the growth of desired tree species
© Parks Canada

Many white spruce stands in PEI National Park are reaching the end of their lifespan (50-70 years) and have become a serious fire hazard. White spruce stands are also less capable of providing the habitat necessary to sustain a greater diversity of flora and fauna and are limited in their ability to produce the variety of tree seeds needed to restore native Acadian forests.

To restore white-spruce stands in PEI National Park to a native Acadian forest, a low-impact forest restoration strategy is being applied. This strategy includes using strip cuts, small patch cuts, thinning and under-planting, crown release and installing cage protection around newly planted trees. Similar to the effects of small-scale natural disturbances, strip cuts and small patch cuts create gaps in the canopy that produce temperature and moisture conditions well suited for the growth of desired tree species. For example, smaller patch cuts are suitable for promoting shade-tolerant species like sugar maple and red spruce, while larger ones are more suitable for shade-intolerant species like red oak.

Under the direction of Parks Canada, members of the Friends of Covehead and Brackley Bay Watershed Group have cleared strips of the spruce forest near the Farmlands Trail in PEI National Park. The strips were re-planted, by Friends of Covehead/Brackley Bay Watershed group, with native Acadian Forest tree species (Eastern White Pine, Eastern Hemlock, Red Spruce, Sugar maple, Yellow Birch, Red Oak) in the spring of 2014. The seedlings were stacked and protected with browse guards in late summer.

Restoration - Cavendish Sandspit

Machinery is used to remove shale from the former roadbed. The project at Cavendish Sandspit will see the road removed and the marsh restored.
© Parks Canada

The 2007 PEI National Park Management Plan indicated that the removal of the Cavendish Sandspit road was imperative to restoring the ecological health of the salt marsh that is divided by the road. The management plan also identified that the Cavendish Sandspit and marsh area should be designated as a Declared Wilderness Area, which requires the removal of the traditional parking lot and road.

A contract to carry out this part of the project has been awarded and work is underway to remove the road bed. This work will be carried out in phases, beginning at the northeastern section of the sandspit road south, where the road connects with the homestead trail. There will be five phases to road removal, and restoration measures associated with each will be implemented before moving into subsequent phases.

Replanting of the area will take place in June 2014. After the work is complete, monitoring will continue at select locations to assess the impact that road removal and restoration has had on the surrounding ecosystems and long-term recovery goals.

Balsam Hollow Trail improvements - Green Gables Heritage Place

Balsam Hollow Trail improvements - Green Gables Heritage Place

Cavendish Grove

It’s hard to believe it but the end of the 2014 summer season is quickly approaching. While that will bring some projects to a close, others will be moving forward to take their place as the focus of fall work and planning. One such project is the creation of a comprehensive plan for Cavendish Grove.

As you know, since it became part of Prince Edward Island National Park in 2005, there have been many discussions held about the future identity of this treasured place. A natural oasis in the heart of Cavendish, the place referred to affectionately as “the Grove,” has been considered for many potential uses but the time has come to create a concrete plan for its future. Cavendish Grove has been identified as an ideal space for inclusion in a larger-scale ecological restoration project with the potential of enhancement of visitor experience opportunities.

The general plan is to establish Cavendish Grove as a "green space", which, by definition, means that it will be an area composed primarily of natural things as opposed to buildings. This kind of restoration is supportive of Canada’s National Conservation Plan, an initiative that aims to restore Canada’s ecosystems and to contribute to the conservation of Canada’s lands and waters through concrete action. Some aspects of the plan for the area are clear - such as the restoration of the ponds, for example - but when it comes to the elements connected to visitor needs, things are less clear. At this time, we are pleased to inform those with an interest in the site about an important initiative to invite comment on the plans for this space.

An online comment card has been developed to collect suggestions from interested parties to contribute to the development of the plan. This card will be available online at from August 25 to November 1, 2014 and signs will be placed at Cavendish Grove to inform people as to the creation of the plan and directing them to the online card should they wish to share their ideas with us. We value the feedback from our neighbours and partners and look forward to hearing from them as we begin shaping the comprehensive plan to guide the future of Cavendish Grove.