Bare Berms on Campus

by: Renate Gepraegs, Bronwen Smith, Caroline Manson

Course: ERS 285, 1997
Supervisor: Paul Kay


A problem of eroded trails on the University of Waterloo campus has been identified. With this project, our group has examined this problem using a study site (a berm) located between the Davis Centre and Parking Lot B. To begin with, we identified our overall idea of sustainability on campus, and related this to our project. We then conducted a system study of the socioeconomic and biophysical systems which affect the berm, as well as a literature review of topics related to trail erosion.

Our major goals for this project were to examine the issue of trail erosion in relation to the study site and, if we found erosion to be a problem, to recomend mitagation measures. We identified four major criteria with which to approach this problem, including usability, biophysical integrity, cost/benefits and aesthetic appeal.

In order to examine usability, we conducted a traffic count of the people who use the berm. We also designed and administred a survey which investigated people's routes over the berm and their reasons for walking where they did. From our studies, we concluded that three of the eroded trails over the berm could be eliminated, but a fourth, which was located far from the paved path, should be made into a new permanent trail to enhance the usability of the site.

Biophysical integrity involves the importance of the area as a productive site for vegetation and organisms. We conducted an inventory of existing vegetation on the berm, and noted the state of several damaged trees. In our research, we examined the effects of trail erosion on vegetation and ways to mitigate these effects. We also investigated native vegetation to use in site rehabilitation, with consideration of its deterrent, aesthetic and slope stabilizing properties.

A preliminary cost/benefit analysis of trail materials was conducted to determine an ideal choice of trail materials for the new trail. From this research we concluded that flagstone would be the most suitable choice, if not ideal, to reduce the damage to turf and rehabilitaed vegetation.

To investigate opionions about the aesthetic appeal of the site, we included questions in our survey. From this we determined that the overall opinion of people using the site was that it was unattractive. For this reason, we felt that a new design and rehabilitation of the site were neccessary.

Based on our findings, we recommended mitigation measures including a new site design which retains most of the sites' features, but adds a flagstone path in place of the most heavily used trail. The site design also contains some suggestions for revegetation consistent with our group's overall vision of sustainability.

This project is available for viewing by the UW community.

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Last updated: September 4, 1997 plc