Revitalizing an urban oasis: The restoration of Beechwood’s Macoun Marsh

By Angela Lackey

Beechwood Cemetery Foundation tackles invasive species and water challenges to preserve a vital habitat and educational resource in Ottawa.

The Beechwood Cemetery Foundation has announced a significant environmental restoration initiative to revitalize the Macoun Marsh, a unique urban wetland within the Beechwood Cemetery. This project addresses the challenges of invasive plant species and fluctuating water levels threatening the marsh’s biodiversity.

The Macoun Marsh, a rare wetland in the southwest corner of Beechwood Cemetery, has been a vibrant habitat for turtles, frogs, and other marine life. However, the proliferation of cattails and other non-native invasive plants has significantly reduced the available area for these species, prompting urgent restoration efforts.

Nicolas McCarthy, the director of marketing, communications, and community relations for Beechwood National Memorial Centre, highlighted the importance of the marsh as a biodiversity hotspot and an educational resource.

“This year marks a significant milestone for us as we aim to enhance the marsh’s ecosystem by deepening its pool,” McCarthy explained. “This intervention is designed to increase biodiversity, provide a better refuge for wildlife, and ensure a healthier environment overall.”

The restoration project will focus on several key areas:

  • Removing invasive species such as common buckthorn and garlic mustard to prevent them from impacting the diversity of the riparian area surrounding the marsh.
  • Creating deepened pool habitats within the wetland increases biodiversity and provides refuge areas for fish and wildlife throughout the seasons.
  • Installing wooden structures from previously fallen trees enhances the habitat for turtles and fish.
  • Revegetating disturbed areas with native plants and seed mixtures to improve the wetland’s ecological functions.

The effort will involve collaboration with local partners and utilize common wetland restoration techniques to enhance wildlife habitat conditions and increase the marsh’s educational and recreational value.

“The Macoun Marsh is not only a place for reflection and learning but also an example of biodiversity in Ottawa,” McCarthy stated. “With over 1300 species of flora and fauna identified, it represents a vibrant pocket of life that continues to thrive against the backdrop of urban expansion.”

A small outdoor classroom located along the marsh’s shores, featuring hand-drawn images of local wildlife, underscores the site’s educational potential. However, the overgrown cattails have compromised the visibility and accessibility of the water, impacting the learning experience for local schoolchildren.

The Beechwood Cemetery Foundation has maintained the Macoun Marsh since its inception in 2000, providing a safe space for over 1,300 species. Yet, without external funding, the foundation has been limited to basic maintenance and unable to implement lasting improvements.

This year’s restoration will focus on the eastern half of the marsh, particularly the areas closest to the classroom and walking paths. The goal is to significantly reduce the cattail population, thereby revitalizing the marsh and encouraging the return of local biodiversity.

Beechwood National Memorial Centre calls on the community for support, inviting donations to ensure the preservation and enhancement of this vital green space. Contributions will cover the costs of environmental expertise and the careful removal of invasive plants, ensuring the marsh’s sustainability.

McCarthy concluded, “Our goal is to maintain Beechwood as a place of solace, nature, and learning for generations to come.”

For more information on how to contribute to the restoration project for the urban Macoun Marsh project or to learn more about the Beechwood Cemetery Foundation’s green initiatives, please visit their website or contact their office directly at 613-741-9530 or

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