Stop The Spread

 

Why should we worry about invasive plant species? 

 Not only are Oriental Bittersweet vines an eyesore; their weight will bring down trees in heavy winds and storms.

Not only are Oriental Bittersweet vines an eyesore; their weight will bring down trees in heavy winds and storms.

According to the Word Conservation Union, invasive plants are the second most significant threat to biodiversity after habitat loss.  Here, in Pound Ridge, New York we have experienced aggressive waves of invasive species over the last decade due to soil disturbance, construction projects and climate change. 

Once invasives take hold, they threaten to overrun native plant species causing them to become extinct. They also:

  • Decrease the quality and amount of range for wildlife.
  • Increase degradation of wetlands and streams to make historic water deliveries.
  • Cause soil erosion and fire hazards.

Why is this important to residents of Pound Ridge?  

Natural or native plant and animal species evolve and work together to maintain and perpetuate the health and vitality of the ecosystems they live in. They offer many checks and balances that limit explosive population growth and prevent domination of any one species, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (http://www.fws.gov) web site. Native plants provide nutritious food that enables animals, birds and bees to thrive, and in turn, the wildlife perpetuates plant life through pollination and the spreading of seeds.

Non-native organisms are introduced into an ecosystem usually through soil disturbances. Since there are no natural enemies to limit its spread, it is not long before the population explodes and overwhelms the native plant species. Once they take hold, they spread rapidly, to roadsides, newly opened spaces and private property. Invasives soon become:

  • Competitors
  • Predators
  • Parasites, 
  • Hybridizers
  • Diseases infecting native and domesticated plants and animals.
  •  Invasive species also lack the nutritional value of native plants and soon:
  • Become harmful to fish, wildlife and plant resources.
  • Degrade the environment
  • Change or displace native habitats 
  • Compete with native wildlife 

How to Control the Spread:

Invasives often share the same common characteristics that make them difficult to control and contain such as:

  In this area Purple Loosestrife (L. salicaria) has   hybridized with the native species, Winged   Loosestrife (L.alatum). Its rapid spread has degraded   temperate North American wetlands.    

In this area Purple Loosestrife (L. salicaria) has hybridized with the native species, Winged Loosestrife (L.alatum). Its rapid spread has degraded temperate North American wetlands.

 

  • Higher rates of reproduction: a Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), for example, is known to produce over 3 million seeds.
  • Fewer natural predators: invasive plant species face very few predators and diseases, which are both important factors that keep native populations in balance.
  • They are generalists: and thrive in a variety of habitats and climate regions.

These characteristics make the management of invasive species a complex undertaking and one which requires cooperative efforts of preserve managers, landscaper managers, contractors, homeowners, etc. The Invasives Project – Pound Ridge offers free consultations with certified Master Gardeners. They will come to your home and evaluate the invasive plants on your property. If you are a resident of Pound Ridge you can request a free consultation at: consult@invasivespoundridge.org

The Invasives Project – Pound Ridge also regularly schedules hands-on workshops and informational seminars where residents can learn how they can “Stop the Spread” by learning how to identify and discourage invasive species. Sign up and receive free emails for our events at consult@invasivespoundridge.org.

Stopping the Spread prevents:     

  • Disruption of natural communities and ecological processes
  • Displacement of native plant communities and/or radically changing the nature of the habitats they invade.
  • Competition for the same natural resources and life requirements (food, water, space, shelter) as native species and 
  • Degradation of local ecologies by disrupting the local food chain.
  • Decreasing the quality of understory habitat in forests that facilitate the spread of other invasive species
  • Degrading aquatic habitats and clog waterways.

Economic and Human Costs of Invasive Spread:

The economic and public health costs of invasive species are also significant and often result in:

 Invasions of Japanese Knotweed have been known to lower property values.

Invasions of Japanese Knotweed have been known to lower property values.

  • Vectors for human disease, i.e. Oriental Barberry provides the perfect habitat for ticks carrying Lyme Disease to thrive and multiply;
  • Significant control and management costs;
  • Reduced productivity in forestry and agricultural sectors;
  • Introduction of damaging organisms; 
  • Reduction property values, according to a Environment Canada (http://www.ec.gc.ca) web site. It is estimated the cost of invasive species on native ecosystems is billions of dollars each year.