PENTICTON, BC — Preventing the spread of invasive plants is motivating a dedicated group of biologists, foresters, agrologists, conservationists and members of the public to head into forested lands outside of Okanagan Falls today. They are learning more about the best ways to fight the serious threat from invasive plants.
The project is supported by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative Inc. (SFI) and the Nature Trust of British Columbia. SFI has a strong interest in invasive-plant management and has included a requirement to limit the introduction, spread and impact of invasive species in the SFI Forest Management Standard since 2005. SFI is providing funding for this project, which is being conducted on land managed by SFI Program Participants.
Invasive species have been identified as one of the three most significant threats to biodiversity in British Columbia, with the province’s interior grasslands and dry forests being the most vulnerable ecosystems. Once they invade, these non-native species cause untold and irreversible harm to the province’s economy, environment, public health and safety, and community well-being. The BC Government estimates that, given the pine beetle, wildfires, timber harvesting, and other land development and recreational activities, over 20 million hectares of Crown land are susceptible to invasion.
SFI helped initiate this project in 2011 with a focus on invasive plants that directly threaten or are likely to threaten native plant and animal communities. Led by The Nature Trust of BC, the project was established on lands managed by Weyerhaeuser Company Ltd. and Gorman Bros Lumber Ltd., which are certified to the SFI Forest Management Standard.
“Grass seeding is a commonly used practice in our industry to manage for potential erosion along road right-of-ways, but there is limited information on the effectiveness of seeding as a tool to reduce invasive plant outbreaks in forested ecosystems,” said Brian Drobe, Princeton Timberlands Planning Forester with Weyerhaeuser Company. “We are pleased to partner on this project, as the results will help us better meet our legislative responsibilities and also our requirements under the SFI Forest Management Standard.”
The project, delivered by the Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS), endeavours to determine what grass seed mix gives the quickest way to reduce invasive plants to a threshold where they are no longer an environmental threat.
“We are testing three different combinations of grass seed at various elevations with different moisture requirements,” said Lisa Scott, OASISS Coordinator. “It’s important to provide seeding options to forestry companies, ranchers and other land managers that take regional variation into consideration.”
The results of this conservation project are anticipated to improve the implementation of SFI standards, and will also demonstrate how certification to the SFI Forest Management Standard complements existing government initiatives.
“We have long recognized the need to limit the spread of invasive species in our forest management standard. So we are pleased to work with partners on this research project. We expect the results of this research to apply through the dry forests of BC and the western US states,” said Andrew de Vries, Vice President of Conservation and Indigenous Relations at SFI.
While initial research results will be showcased during the field session, monitoring will continue for several years.
This project is one of more than 60 SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships grants awarded since 2010. Since then, SFI has provided more than $1.9 million to foster research and to pilot efforts to better inform future decisions about our forests. When leveraged with project partner contributions, that total investment exceeds $7.1 million.
EXTRA INFORMATION ON IMPACTS OF INVASIVE PLANTS:
The impacts of invasive plants in forested ecosystems are numerous. Invasive plants can: affect the survival and growth of planted conifers; accelerate soil erosion and stream sedimentation; consume critical water resources and negatively impact water quality; increase the wildfire hazard; interfere with regeneration of forests; and destroy or otherwise alter critical natural habitats required by species at risk or other high valued wildlife.