Buy time by fighting invasive species

Keeping non-native plants out can speed up a land reclamation project

An invasive plant species can be a landowner’s worst nightmare, especially if it takes root in an environmentally sensitive area.

That’s why it’s important for farmers, ranchers and land managers to be able to identify invasive plant species and control them early, says Chet Neufeld, a board member with the Saskatchewan Invasive Species Council.

Control is particularly important for landowners who are attempting to restore sensitive areas or re-establish native plant species, Neufeld said during a native prairie restoration workshop hosted by the Sask-atchewan Prairie Action Conservation Plan.

“I think we can all agree that whatever experience we’ve had with restoration and revegetation, it’s not an easy affair,” said Neufeld.

“It’s usually difficult, complicated, time consuming and costly … and in my experience… invasive species are a major stumbling block through the entire process.”

He said controlling invasive species should be a top priority for landowners who are considering restoration projects.

Effort that is invested early in the process usually pays huge dividends later on, he added.

“This is not a hard and fast rule, but generally speaking, if you can put a year towards controlling invasive species beforehand, that will save you about two to three years worth of management afterward,” he told land managers attending the Jan. 28 workshop in Saskatoon.

“It’s a whole adage of an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

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The Saskatchewan Invasive Species Council is preparing fact sheets about the most pervasive plant species in the province to assist with identification and control.

They are available online at the SISC’s website at www.saskinvasives.ca.

All fact sheets are presented in a similar format and contain a description and photograph of the species as well as information pertaining to habitat, identification, prevention and control measures.

Depending on the species, control can be achieved through mechanical, chemical or biological controls as well as management practices, such as grazing.

The fact sheets are available for a variety of terrestrial plant species including common burdock, jointed goatgrass, salt cedar, scentless chamomile and knapweed.

Neufeld said fact sheets for other invasive alien plant species will be added over time, as resources permit.

We’re really working to develop a fact sheet for every species on the (Saskatchewan) Weed Control Act,” Neufeld said.

“It’s always a challenge to try and be as comprehensive as you can because there’s always new threats coming into the province.”

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The council’s website also offers information on invasive aquatic plant, animal and insect species.

An invasive species is a non-native species that has the ability to spread aggressively and the potential to cause significant damage to the environment, the economy or human health.

The Saskatchewan Invasive Species Council was formed in 2008.

At the time, Saskatchewan was the only prairie province that did not have a provincial invasive species council.

“We didn’t really have anything to co-ordinate the efforts and to help increase communication … so it closed the gap in the western Canadian network,” Neufeld said.

“We now have a Canadian network of invasive species councils that collaborate with one another as well as working within their own boundaries.”

Contact brian.cross@producer.com

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