Did you know that beautiful Forillon National Park is not immune to climate change? Watch the two first videos to witness the damages caused by erosion, not only to Forillon, but also to Gaspé residents’ property.

And in the three videos that follow, an expert answers our questions about this environmental challenge that affects our territory and how we can adapt to it. 

Forillon tackles the challenge of coastal erosion (1/2)

Forillon Takles the Challenge of Coastal Erosion

Transcript

[Logo of Forillon National Park and logo og Forillon is invested and adapts to climate change]

[Park's coast | Text : Forillon Takles the Challenge of Coastal Erosion - Part One (of two)]

[A pebble beach]

Being bordered by both the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Gaspé Bay,

Forillon National Park is blessed with spectacular seashores.

[Road on a sand spit undercut erosion]

However, for more 30 years now, erosion has been a major issue in terms of preserving coastal environment and maintaining viable park infrastructures.

"

[waves striking a paved road | Text: Archives, Forillon National Park]

"

On Penouille sand spit, a paved trail leading to the beach that was frequently washed out during major storms; likewise, the service building located on the point was undercut by erosion.

[Building eroded |Text: Archives, Forillon National Park]

And samething occurred at the Cap-des-Rosiers beach, where the road was destroyed by waves and storms almost every year, even though a protective riprap structure had been erected.

[A woman in a park's shelter | Text: Marie-Claude Trudel, Education Officer – Parks Canada]

Aside from the costs of repairs associated with this erosion , it is increasingly apparent that beaches in the park have been shrinking – to the point of vanishing altogether " For that reason, Forillon National Park started major work to restore its natural environment " and revamp its infrastructures at the Penouille and Cap-des-Rosiers beaches.

[Two man getting out a truck identified UQAR]

[A man | Texte: Stéphane Marchand, Superintendent, Forillon National Park ]

Forillon Park has partnered with the Université du Québec à Rimouski concerning various phases of work carried out at both Penouille and Cap-des-Rosiers.

[A man and a woman studying mud in a marsh]

[A lighthouse]

Obviously, their people are involved in all the academic research They have a worldwide reputation in coastal erosion research,

[A man up in a lighthouse]

but they also have contacts up and down the St. Lawrence, at different places where they’ve conducted studies Thanks to their knowledge and expertise, we have more reliable data, and a better basis for comparison

[Two persons on a beach]

[A woman in a Park's shelter | Text: Marie-Claude Trudel, public outreach officer – Parks Canada]

Erosion is affecting more and more people who live near shorelines. I met with a number of citizens who have experienced its impact

[Picture of a collapsed garage and eroded coast | Text: Property of Mr. and Ms. Cotton on the edge of Forillon National Park]

"

[At some point, everything collapsed… You could say everything headed into the sea.

"

[An old woman in her house]

That was the clothesline post – it all came down. Even my neighbour heard it. She thought it was thunder, but on a huge scale Metal stuff that bends and snaps…. Talk about noise!

[coast]

The thing is, here is where our home was.

[Old woman on a coast]

So for sure, we lost a part of the lot behind the house, though we didn’t lose our house And our garage was over there. Half the garage went down the cliff. If I had one bit of advice to give

An old man and old woman on a coast near the sea

I’d tell people not to build on the edge of a cliff. Totally. As the years go by, with the erosion of shorelines you hear about, and global warming, for sure these things are going to happen, same way they happened to us.

[M. et Mme Cotton on the coast]

We were affected by it for a long time… " As for the garage… let’s say [it represented] a portion of our life savings…

"

[M. et Mme Cotton et Marie-Claude Trudel on the coast]

[A woman in a Park's shelter | Text: Marie-Claude Trudel, public outreach officer – Parks Canada]

It’s true that coastal erosion is a natural phenomenon that has always existed. If erosion were a sculptor, you could say we have its talent to thank for the beauty of our shoreline landscapes. But with climate change, however, the rules of the game have changed. Christian Fraser, a research associate in coastal dynamics at the UQAR tells us how.

[Coast]

[A man standing on the coast | Text: Christian Fraser, Research Associate, UQAR]

One of the major factors that has intensified coastal dynamics is reduced ice cover, or ice cover that does not last as long as it used to.

[Logo of Laboratoire de dynamique et de gestion intégrée des zones côtières | Text: UQAR, Monitoring camera, Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse, December 25th, 2013, January 18th, 2014, January 21st, 2014]

For example, not so long ago, a storm could be completely halted by the ice present when it hit. Now, however, because very often there isn’t any ice before early January, a bad storm will produce considerable impact. The other major factor is sea levels. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that sea levels are rising in Quebec.

[Waves on ice]

Now, when the next storm hits, if the sea level is a bit higher than it was 20 or 50 years ago,

[A man standing on the coast | Text: Christian Fraser, Research Associate, UQAR]

and if there is supposed to be ice but in fact there is none, the end result is that even though storms do not necessarily occur more often than they use to "7or they are no stronger than they were before, they will have a harder impact on shorelines. " Erosion has accentuated as a result of climate change. In order to confront this problem, we must change the way we occupy shorelines. That is what Forillon Park is doing at Penouille and Cap-des-Rosiers.

[Visitors on a sandy beach]

These efforts are in keeping with the aim of Parks Canada to preserve significant natural environments

[People practising stand-up paddle and great herons]

so that visitors now and in the futur can enjoy seashores and be amazed by theirs resources and beauty.

[People in a quadricycle on a wooden path]

[Children on a beach looking at an aquarium]

"

[Acknowledgements Mr. and Ms. Cotton, Cap-aux-Os Laboratoire de dynamique et de gestion intégrée des zones côtières [Laboratory of coastal area dynamics and integrated management] Université du Québec à Rimouski [University of Quebec at Rimouski] Site historique maritime du phare de Cap-des-Rosiers Yohan Robert and Monica Sheehan]

"

[A seashore bird in water]

[Production and editing: Duane Cabot Photo direction : Duane Cabot et Roger St-Laurent]

A Visitor service building and the view on the sea

"

[To find out more, please visit: pc.gc.ca/Forillon facebook.com/ForillonNP Twitter.com/ForillonNP]

"

[To be continued…]

[Parks Canada logo]

[ Her majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, Represented by Parks Canada, 2016]

Forillon adapts to coastal erosion (2/2)

Forillon adapts to coastal erosion - Part Two of two

Transcript

[Beaver logo]

[A beach | Text : FORILLON NATIONAL PARK ADAPTS TO COASTAL EROSION - part Two of Two]

[A beach with people]

The beaches of Forillon National Park are ideal for loads of activities.

[A road and a belvedere destroyed close to the shore]

But the park’s facilities are being put to the test by coastal erosion.

[A woman wearing Parks Canada uniform on a beach | Text : Marie-Claude Trudel, Public Outreach Officer, Parks Canada]

We know that one of the cause is the climate change. Because of it, our winters are milder so there is less ice to protect the shores from storms. But there’s another important cause of accentuated erosion and it’s the infrastructures themselves, like a riprap, built along the shore.

[A beach and a riprap]

[A man on a beach | Text : Louis Cormier, Research Associate, UQAR]

Riprap has an impact on beaches in dynamic environments or when there are a strong waves … When waves break on natural beaches, the beach absorbs the energy of the wave across a fairly big distance

[Strong waves on a natural beach]

But when a wave hits a rigid structure like riprap or a wall,

[Strong waves hiting a riprap]

its energy is dissipated upwards or downwards —often both—which causes backwash.

[Research Associate Louis Cormier on the beach]

When it moves upwards it can overflow and submerge part of the shoreline … and when it moves downwards it can drain the sediment at the base of the riprap and pull it out to sea. This lowers the beach and makes the shoreline even more vulnerable to future storms,

[Big waves at sea]

which will roll in with even more energy and have an even greater impact, intensifying erosion and, in extreme cases, damaging the riprap.

[Parks Canada Public Outreach Officer on the beach]

Thanks to research carried out at Forillon by Université du Québec à Rimouski, Parks Canada was able to identify appropriate areas to build infrastructure adapted to coastline.

[Aerial photo of a sandy peninsula | text: Penouille Peninsula| a pictogram of a shelter | text: Old Building]

UQAR studies and projections show that by 2050,

[A man wearing Parks Canada uniform on a shore protected by a riprap | text: Frédéric Ste-Croix, Assett Manager, Forillon National Park]

the spot where our former service building stood on Penouille Point will be underwater due to rising sea levels.

[Aerial photo of a sandy peninsula with a perimeter becoming blue | Text: Projection 2050 | pictogram of a shelter| Text: Old services building]

[Damaged building on a beach]

The service building has already been badly damaged by waves and storms.

[Brand new building and boardwalk]

So we built a new building in a zone UQAR identified as stable.

[A loader removing asphalt on a shore]

As for the point’s access road, the best solution was to replace the regular asphalt and fill material with a raised boardwalk that didn’t interfere with the isthmus

[Wood boardwalk on a shore]

or the movement of the waves.

[Forillon National Park Asset Manager on a shore protected by a riprap]

[Monuments on a beach | text: Carricks' shipwreck, 1847]

For Cap-des-Rosiers, We also had to move the Carrick shipwreck monument

[A loader raising a monument]

to protect it from storms.

[A loader removing rocks from a riprap along the shore]

In the same area, the work to be done mostly involves dismantling the road that ran along the coast

[A loader removing soil]

dismantling the riprap that protected the road and reshaping the banks

[Forillon National Park Asset Manager on a shore protected by a riprap]

The new stretch of Highway 132 has been moved further inland, nearer the forest,

[Big waves splashing a road]

away from the dynamic coastal zone.

[A man on a coast | Text: Christian Fraser, Research Associate, UQAR]

With the riprap gone, there’s a good chance that the coastline will recede and take its natural shape again, but probably further inland.

[Black and white picture of a peeble beach |Text: Cap-des-Rosiers, 1930]

During all those years that erosion was being controlled, there probably would have been some gradual natural erosion.

[UQAR Research Associate on the coast]

Removing the riprap in one go, is obviously going to reshape the shoreline and cause it to recede. But as I mentioned, it will take its natural shape, the material that’s eroded from the surrounding cliffs will replenish the beach, so there won’t be that backwash effect.

[Hundreds of fishes rolling on a beach within the waves | Text: Credit: Dave Gilbert Jarvis]

The return of a long beach at Cap-des-Rosiers will delight citizen and visitors, and even fishes. Indeed the capelin will once again have an habitat to lay its eggs in the beach gravel.

[Parks Canada Public Outreach Officer on the beach]

But, retrofitting current infrastructure to adapt to erosion isn’t enough we also need to restore the environment by replanting natural vegetation.

[Many people wearing Parks Canada uniform and digging holes in the sand]

Forillon Coastal ecosysteme restoration program includes plantation principaly of seagrass lyme shoots.

[A man wearing Parks Canada uniform on a beach | Text: Daniel Sigouin, Ecologist, Forillon National Park]

this plant has an extensive root system that help stabilize the shore.

[A woman and a man wearing Parks Canada uniform and planting stems]

So when the asphalt and some buildings will be removed we will be able to proceed to thoses plantations With the natural slope, and the combination of thoses plants that stabilize the soil it will help to

[Forillon National Park Ecologist on the beach]

control the energy of the waves and to make our restoration more effective on the long term.

[People having fun on a beach and on the upper beach, a sign «Area closed - Restoration site»]

By building infrastructure suited to coastline shoreline and returning beaches to their natural state,

[Two people walking on a pebble beach]

Forillon National Park is giving visitors the chance to continue to enjoy these seashores

[Marine birds on the sea]

and is protecting the natural and cultural resources found there.

[Parks Canada Public Outreach Officer on the beach]

The conclusion is simple: the more natural a beach is, the more it will be able to withstand erosion.

[Kids on a sandy beach]

[Eelgrass in the wind]

[Acknowledgements Laboratoire de dynamique et de gestion intégrée des zones côtières [Laboratory of coastal area dynamics and integrated management] Université du Québec à Rimouski [University of Quebec at Rimouski]

[Production and editing: Duane Cabot, Photo direction : Roger St-Laurent]

[To find out more: pc.gc.ca/Forillon]

[Logo of Forillon National Park and logo of Forillon is invested and adapts to climate change]

[Parks Canada logo]

[Her majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, Represented by Parks Canada, 2016]

[Canada word symbol]

Question for an expert (1/3)

What weakens the coastline?

In order to inform us on coastal erosion, we invited an expert from the Université du Québec à Rimouski, researcher Christian Fraser, to answer our questions in a short video. Here is the first video of three where he explains what factors contribute to weaken the coastline.

Transcript

[Parks Canada beaver logo]

[Waves on a peeble beach with a village in background]

[Waves on a peeble beache]

[Text : Question for an expert]

[Text : What factors weaken the coastline?]

[Researcher Christian Fraser faces camera. He talks. Behind, there's a cliffs and sea landscape. | Text : Christian Fraser, research associate, UQAR]

One of the main factors that increases the rate of change along coastlines is reduced ice coverage in winter or ice coverage for a shorter period of time. For example, in the past, storms were largely impeded by the presence of ice. Now, because there is often any ice before early January, if there is a big storm in December, it has a much bigger impact. The other important factor is sea level. We now know without a doubt that Quebec's sea level is rising. In many areas, the impact of that sea level is that beaches that have evolved with a fairly stable sea level fed by a cliff or a stream will be relatively stable over time. But when the sea level rises, the wave and all the other oceanographic forces move further inland and increasingly reach the cliff behind the beach or other sectors that were out of reach in the past. That's when we see a change in coastal dynamic. In coastal environment, the beach is the key element. Without the beach it's almost guaranteed that the coastline will be eroded. With a big beach, the waves don't travel any further. So beaches play a crucial role. We've studied many areas on the tip of the Gaspé peninsula particularly around Percé. And the width of the beach has shronk considerably in the past 30 years. We've been able to measure it with greater precision than in the past And it appears to be directly linked to the rising sea level.

[Parks Canada logo]

[Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, Represented by Parks Canada, 2017.]

[Logo Canada]

Question for an expert (2/2)

What accelerates it? 

In order to inform us on coastal erosion, we invited an expert from the Université du Québec à Rimouski, researcher Christian Fraser, to answer our questions in a short video. Here is the second video of three where he explains how infrastructures that are not adapted to the coastline accelerate coastal erosion.

Transcript

[Parks Canada beaver logo]

[Waves on a peeble beach with a village in background]

[Waves on a peeble beache]

[Text : Question for an expert]

[Text : How does the infrastructure that is not adapted to the coastline accelerate coastal erosion?]

[Researcher Christian Fraser faces camera. He talks. Behind, there's a cliffs and sea landscape. | Text : Christian Fraser, research associate, UQAR]

In the last few decades, ripraps and walls, i.e., rigid structures, have been the most popular way to protect the coast. So we’ve been hardening the shoreline to stop waves from travelling inland. These types of structures have proven to be effective in some cases. For example, where there’s a steady influx of sand or gravel, a river or the mouth of a stream, or a mass of sand along the coast, a wall may not cause any problems. But if the problem, at the outset, is a lack of sand, if the beach is already narrow, rigid, vertical structures aren’t appropriate because they’ll simply accelerate the erosion of the beach at the base of the structure. Big ripraps or walls will often do the job and stop the shoreline from receding. But then it’s the beach on the other side of the structure that recedes. Plus, there’s what’s called an “end effect.” Because wave energy is stronger at the extremities of the barriers, they actually increase the erosion that occurs at either end. It’s common to see a retaining wall go up on private property and in the years that follow, erosion increases on the neighbouring property, so then the neighbour puts up a retaining wall… It’s kind of a domino effect. As soon as you put up a rigid structure where there’s a sediment deficit, the problem gets worse.

[Parks Canada logo]

[Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, Represented by Parks Canada, 2017.]

[Logo Canada]

Question for an expert (3/3)

What can we do?

In order to inform us on coastal erosion, we invited an expert from the Université du Québec à Rimouski, researcher Christian Fraser, to answer our questions in a short video. Here is the last video where he explains how we can find out, as a citizen, what should be done to adapt to coastal erosion.

Transcript

[Parks Canada beaver logo]

[Waves on a peeble beach with a village in background]

[Waves on a peeble beache]

[Text : Question for an expert]

[Text : As a citizen, how can you find out what should be done to adapt to coastal erosion?]

[Researcher Christian Fraser faces camera. He talks. Behind, there's a cliffs and sea landscape. | Text : Christian Fraser, research associate, UQAR]

We recommend that before jumping into action, before you call a contractor to put up a barrier, contact your municipality. The people there will be able to contact a group like ours. A lot of maps of the coast, of coastal dynamics, are now supplied to municipalities and MRCs so that when a local resident comes looking for information, we can sit down and look at the maps and say: “OK, your house is located here, in this section, and there’s lateral sediment transfer, there’s sand coming in over here, and if we increase that amount of sand, that could help.” Or ripraps… Ripraps often aren’t favoured by scientists because they can have a major impact on a number of levels. When you add a rigid structure to a soft shoreline, it has a major impact. But if someone has a rock cliff in front of his house, adding rocks to protect the cliff won’t change the coastal dynamics all that much. You have a rock cliff and you add rocks. So the profile stays pretty much the same, but you reduce the erosion of the cliff.

[Parks Canada logo]

[Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, Represented by Parks Canada, 2017.]

[Logo Canada]