Invasive species take a toll

by | Jun 6, 2023 | Health and Wellness

Invasive plants are more than just unsightly weeds. They can have significant economic, environmental and safety impacts.

If you have ever inadvertently come into contact with giant hogweed or wild parsnip you will not forget the encounter anytime soon. The sap from these invasive plants is toxic to the skin and can cause severe irritation.

Other invasive plants like phragmites, also known as common reed, can spread quickly and aggressively choke out native vegetation. This can be devastating for local ecosystems. While there are various options for controlling these plants, which can include mowing, flooding and compression, sometimes these steps can actually stimulate the growth of more of the invasive reeds.

Whether it’s giant hogweed, wild parsnip or phragmites, sometimes the best option for controlling them is by using an herbicide.

“Unlike other removal methods, herbicides get to the root of the problem, effectively killing the entire plant,” says Pierre Petelle, president and CEO of CropLife Canada. “All pesticides in Canada are regulated by Health Canada to ensure they can be used safely without harm to humans or the environment.”

Invasive species can have long-term impacts on natural environments from forests to wetlands and lakes. These plants compete with native vegetation for water, nutrients and space, which impacts soil and water quality, wildlife habitat, biodiversity and natural fire protection.

Invasive plants can also invade recreational areas, making them less attractive and less enjoyable for people and their families. Dense vegetation can make it difficult for people to enjoy walking trails, and popular swimming areas can become unusable due to uncontrolled aquatic plants. Unfortunately, outdoor recreation enthusiasts can inadvertently spread infestations by tracking seeds and other parts of the plants to new areas.

However, with an effective range of tools, which includes pesticides and mechanical methods to control invasive species, local land managers can keep our natural environments and urban green spaces healthy. 

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