Prevent the spread of invasive alien plants

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CARP can help homeowners curb the problem

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By Marika Godwin

This spring, the Clean Annapolis River Project (CARP) is asking Valley residents to check their properties for invasive alien plants.

Plants like Glossy Buckthorn, Japanese Knotweed, Purple Loosestrife, and Multiflora Rose can be found in gardens and yards across the Annapolis Valley. Unfortunately, their beauty is masking an ugly truth.

Known as invasive alien species, these plants are not from here. With the help of humans, they have been introduced outside of their natural ranges. Lacking the factors that keep their populations “in check” at home, invasive alien plants can succeed in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley at the expense of native flora.

Escaped garden plants contribute to the larger problems posed to the environment, economy, and society by introduced species (including animals and microbes). Biological invaders are the second greatest threat to native biodiversity worldwide. In Canada alone, more than 20 per cent of “Species at Risk” are threatened with extinction by invasive alien species.

Sadly, losses caused by invaders do not stop at plants and animals. The estimated annual cost of damage caused to forestry and agricultural crops in Canada is $7.5 billion.

Common sense tells us that, as with most things, prevention is the key. It is the most efficient and cost-effective way to reduce the introduction, establishment, and spread of invasive alien plants. That said, being able to recognize potential invaders becomes very important.

In general, invasive alien plants establish quickly, withstand stress, and grow without much care: the very same qualities that may make them desirable. When considering a garden plant whose biology is not familiar, CARP recommends doing some research first. Many plants with known invasive qualities are still available at greenhouses, nurseries, and by mail order.

Keep in mind the sensitive natural areas beyond the garden fence. Nova Scotia’s native ecosystems are our communal backyard, and invasive species are everyone’s problem.

If you think you may have an invasive alien plant on your property, and would like help with identification or control, please contact the Clean Annapolis River Project. We would be happy to provide you with additional literature and resources or arrange an invasive plants presentation for your group or class.

Marika Godwin is with Clean Annapolis River Project. Contact her at 902-532-7533 or visit www.annapolisriver.ca.

Geographic location: Annapolis River, Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia Canada

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