A Laboratory on Coastal Erosion at Forillon National Park

Parks Canada and UQAR launch a new research project at Forillon National Park

GASPÉ, QC, Dec. 2, 2013 /CNW/ - Parks Canada and the Université du Québec à Rimouski (UQAR) are launching a research project concerning the coastal dynamics of the Cap-des-Rosiers beach, in Forillon National Park. It is the second partnership to be struck between Forillon National Park and the shoreline erosion specialists at UQAR, who have already been inquiring into the coastal dynamics of the Penouille peninsula since 2010.

For upwards of 15 years now, erosion has caused considerable damage to the shores of Forillon National Park. In particular, spring tides and violent storms in the fall and winter have impacted the condition of the Cap-des-Rosiers beach, in the park's north sector. The study now underway until 2015 will serve to achieve a better understanding of this coastal system and to observe how the latter "reacts" to partial beach nourishment.

"The question is: What would happen if the riprap on the Cap-des-Rosiers beach was removed?" explained Daniel Sigouin, the ecologist at Forillon National Park. "Thanks to this study, we will be able to better anticipate the beach's response to the partial or total dismantling of the riprap protection." These findings will then guide the Parks Canada team toward more effective solutions for restoring the natural dynamic of the Cap-des-Rosiers beach, improving capelin spawning grounds, and providing adequate protection to the marsh located behind this beach.

"Since riprap appears to have had a considerable impact on the Cap-des-Rosiers beach, lowering it and narrowing it with each succeeding storm, the natural reflex would be to dismantle the riprap and restore the beach," explained Yves Blanchard, the person responsible for the project at the UQAR's Laboratoire de dynamique et de gestion intégrée des zones côtières [Laboratory of coastal area dynamics and integrated management], under Professor Pascal Bernatchez. "However, we still lack some knowledge in this field, which explains why this project will be useful. Assuming that the conclusion was reached that it was appropriate to remove the riprap, the UQAR Laboratoire sees a highly valuable opportunity to study this type of intervention, which has been rarely documented either in Canada or globally."

One of the aspects of this project consists in nourishing the beach over an approximately 150-m-long stretch from which riprap was removed during the spring tide of December 2010. Parks Canada will carry out this nourishment operation in spring 2014. Then, in the months following, waves should naturally reshape the beach - i.e., building it up (reducing the slope) and extending it. Throughout this process, UQAR researchers will perform various surveys and analyses to see how the beach and the shoreline "react."

"Where the Penouille peninsula is concerned, the findings of the study conducted with the UQAR between 2010 and 2012 served to identify the type of infrastructures that needed to be implemented in order to enhance the visitor experience and, at the same time, protect the ecological and cultural integrity of Penouille," explained Stéphane Marchand, Parks Canada superintendent for the Gaspésie Field Unit. "We are currently building a pile bridge, which will replace the former asphalt road. In the north sector of the park, we replaced a stretch of the Route du Banc in 2011 so as to secure a lasting, safe road link while also reducing the impact of erosion on our road infrastructures. Today we are pursuing our approach along the Cap-des-Rosiers beach, in order to identify the best strategies to enable us to adapt to the phenomenon of coastal erosion."

Parks Canada is a leader in ecosystem management and restoration. The Agency works to ensure that Canada's natural and cultural heritage is presented and protected for the enjoyment, education and appreciation of all Canadians.

SOURCE: Parks Canada

For further information:

Michel Queenton
External Relations Manager
Gaspésie Field Unit, Parks Canada
facebook.com/ForillonNP ; twitter.com/ForillonNP

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