Wetland restoration at Toronto Zoo

This year, Adopt-A-Pond (AAP) has been restoring and enhancing two wetland areas on Zoo site with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and provincial funding from the Great Lakes Guardian Community Fund and Land Stewardship and Habitat Restoration Program. Wetlands are important as they control erosion and flooding, clean water, provide habitat to wildlife, and are sites of recreation for people. Sadly, over 75% of Ontario’s wetlands have disappeared due to development and agriculture. Restoration assists in improving habitat for wildlife, wetland functionality, and benefits humans.

The first wetland on site, whose name is changing from the “Americas Wetlands” to the “Canadian Wetlands”, is located between the Tundra Trek and Australasia. Visitors are always welcome to wander through it and see what they can find. During the summer, there are volunteers from the Education department at the kiosk to answer questions and display wetland items.

The Canadian Wetlands

With volunteers from the University of Toronto and Trent University, AAP and TRCA tackled the invasive plants called Phragmites. Using spades, plants were removed by the root and collected for proper disposal. Phragmites is a perennial grass that spreads quickly, outcompetes native species for water and nutrients, releases toxins from its roots, and affects the stability of wetlands. To learn more about Phragmites and how you can help, click here.

Invasive species removal

The second wetland, called the “Chorus Frog Swale”, can be viewed from the Zoomobile. It received a full make-over during a week-long construction period. An excavator created a key trench for the water that collects in the wetland with slopes that will encourage vegetation growth. The berm was seeded and covered with a mat that controls erosion until new plants grow through and it degrades. Rocks were added to improve the spillway and manage stormwater. Natural vegetation was planted and habitat features like logs were added. We hope to see lots of animals using the habitat next season, especially the at-risk Western Chorus Frog that used to live around here.

The Chorus Frog Swale restoration work 

We are very excited about these two wetlands and still have some work to do before next summer including the addition of educational displays. We look forward to seeing what wildlife will use these areas and that Zoo visitors will enjoy both learning about and experiencing the wondrous world of wetlands!