Coastal ecosystem restoration
Having become a leader in climate change adaptation in the country, Forillon National Park was awarded the 2020 Award of Excellence to an agency from the Canadian Park Council for its Cap-des-Rosiers beach restoration project..
Climate change has a range of repercussions for Forillon Park.
Shore erosion has been aggravated by rising sea levels, changes in temperature and a decrease in sea ice. With the construction of roads and buildings that are not suited to a coastal environment, many shores have become fragile.
Shoreline erosion has damaged some of the park’s beachside facilities and threatened the integrity of natural and cultural components.
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.
Redevelop facilities in consideration of the coastal dynamic and the risks of coastal erosion, and restore natural components.
Studying the shorelines before taking action
The expertise provided by the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) has played a critical role in efforts to better understand coastal erosion and develop methods for adapting to this new reality.
There are many benefits to this approach: a medium- and long-term decrease in maintenance and repair costs; the maintenance of a sand beach at Penouille and the return of the Cap-des-Rosiers beach for the enjoyment of visitors; and the protection of natural and cultural heritage.
Modifying beach access
Paved infrastructures are incompatible with an environment as dynamic as a shoreline.
In order to maintain the balance of the strip of land providing access to the sand spit, the paved trail was replaced by a raised boardwalk. In addition, the new route of access was laid out further from the beach
Dismantling the road on Cap-des-Rosiers beach
Roads and riprap protection built alongside shorelines only aggravate the phenomenon of erosion, causing beaches to disappear altogether.
Following the dismantling of the road and riprap structure at Cap-des-Rosiers, visitors will again discover a beach where they may enjoy a fabulous shoreline.
A new multipurpose trail will enable visitors to explore the sector's natural and cultural wealth.
The new Road 132 (in red) passes through the forest, far from the dynamic coastal landscape.
Shoreline plants are essential for maintaining backshores and sand beaches. For that reason, the shoreline restoration project has incorporated the planting of beach grasses along the previously paved portion of the trail at Penouille and the old Cap-des-Rosiers road.
Driftwood and seaweed that have washed up on the beach also help to protect the beach from waves and promote the accumulation of sand. Such materials are not trash and should be left on the beach. Only real trash should be removed – i.e., trash created by humans (e.g., plastic, treated wood, etc.).
Developing facilities in keeping with beach dynamics
Constructing a service building on piles at Penouille
A sand spit like the one at Penouille is much too fragile and dynamic an environment for siting heavy buildings. That is why the new snack bar was built on the plateau located at the entrance to the peninsula and not on the sand spit proper.
According to projected sea levels, the area at the tip of the sand spit (i.e., the location of the former service building, already considerably damaged by erosion) will be completely under water by 2050.
Accordingly, a new building on piles was erected in the middle of the peninsula using materials from the former building.
Moving the monument commemorating of the Carrick
On April 28, 1847, the brig known as the Carricks wrecked offshore from Cap-des-Rosiers. One hundred and thirty-nine of the 187 Irish immigrant passengers fleeing famine and epidemics drowned. In 1977, a monument was erected to honour their memory on the upper portion of the Cap-des-Rosiers beach in Forillon Park.
However, due to the disappearance of the beach, storms washed in as far as the commemorative site. The monument has be moved further away from beach, to an area identified as stable, all with a view to protecting its integrity
If you live in coastal environment and are concerned by shoreline erosion, here are some websites worth visiting:
The website of the Zone d'intervention prioritaire (ZIP) Baie des Chaleurs offers a section containing guides and education kits (in French) for better understanding shoreline erosion and the alternatives available for confronting this problem.
- The website (in French) of the Laboratoire de dynamique et de gestion intégrée des zones côtières (UQAR) features a range of resources and offers visitors the opportunity of joining a network of coastal environment observers (in French)..