Natvik Design Inc.
45 Duchess Avenue,
London, Ontario, N6C 1N3
Tel: 519-518-5263 | Ecological Restoration
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Ecological Restoration


Southern Ontario was historically a rich mosaic of ecosystems including deciduous forests, oak savannahs, tallgrass prairies, wetlands, and river systems. Ecological restoration involves re-establishing a site’s original hydrology and vegetation. Natvik design has worked with many private landowners and organizations such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada to restore many types of ecosystems.


The hydrology of most properties in southern Ontario has been drastically altered by drainage and levelling. Most of the original forests of the region were seasonally wet and had microtopography called pits and mounds. This microtopography was created by many centuries of trees tipping over when they died. In 2001, Mathis Natvik pioneered the technique of mimicking pits and mound topography by using bulldozers to create gentle undulations in flat fields at the Clear Creek Forest nature reserve in Chatham-Kent (see before image of newly constructed pits & mounds). The undulations are created with similar dimensions to those found in nearby old growth forests.

This creates a unique array of micro-habitats with varying degrees of moisture (all within a small area). The reforestation site is then able to support a diversity of plants that is much closer in resemblance to original forests of the region. In heavier soils, water accumulating in the pits also provides breeding habitats for many forest dwelling amphibian species. The resulting tree growth is also more rapid, since pits are able to capture and store storm water that benefit nearby trees (see after image of Pin Oaks).


Most people are not aware that pockets of tallgrass prairie existed in Ontario along with associated ecosystems such as oak savannah. Today, little remains of these ecosystems but remnants of prairie and savannah still exist in places such as Ojibway Prairie in Windsor, Walpole Island, and the Rice Lake Plains. Many of the plants and animals that depend on prairies are at great risk of disappearing in Ontario. Recreating prairies is a high priority where the opportunity exists where prairies were historically present. Restored prairies are readily adopted by grassland birds including bobolink, eastern meadowlark, upland sandpipers, and bobwhite quail.

Natvik design has planted several hundred acres of prairies across southern Ontario ranging from one acre to fifty acres in size. Restored prairies on the Natvik Farm serve as gene banks for seeds of prairie species collected from local remnant prairies in Chatham-Kent, Elgin, and Essex Counties. Rare Ontario species in these gene banks include dense blazing star, compass-plant, prairie dock, Culver’s root, Missouri ironweed, and Sullivant’s milkweed. Some of these local prairie remnants have been recently destroyed, making these gene banks especially important for acting as a seed source for ongoing and future prairie restoration projects.


Many properties have existing vegetation in the form of stunted tree plantations and woodlots degraded by poor logging practices and cattle damage. Invasive species can further reduce the ecological value of these properties. Natvik design has worked with many property owners to assist in the management of their woodlots to restore the biodiversity and structure. This can be accomplished by removing invasive species, thinning, and the re-introduction of plants that have disappeared such as oaks and trilliums.

Managing existing vegetation on properties can greatly enhance their ecological and monetary value. In this photo, the pine plantation shown above has been diversified through thinning of crowded pines to release oaks and other hardwood trees. The understorey has been also been restored with a ground cover of native grasses and wildflowers that support many more species of wildlife.