Invasive Plant Management in Alberta
The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers invasive non-native species to be, after habitat loss, the second most significant threat to biodiversity. Newly introduced plant species are often free of predation and disease, as they are not recognized by local animals or pathogens and can proliferate in different environments via rapid evolution and superior competitive ability. Upon their arrival to introduced communities, non-native plants often exhibit faster population growth compared to their native neighbors. When non-native plants reproduce more quickly than native plants to the extent that they cause displacement of native plants, these non-natives are categorized as invasive. It has been found the more recent a plant’s introduction, or if an education campaign is in place, the more recognizable the plant is as invasive by the public. The longer an invasive plant had been present, the more likely it is accepted as part of the local ecosystem. Some prime examples of the later are Dandelions and Creeping (Canada) Thistle. Both have been widespread in Alberta for decades and the name Canada Thistle even implies this plant is native, however, both are introduced species and originally come from Europe.
Horticulture and Agriculture are the two industries largely responsible for the spread of invasive, non-native plants. Many non-natives are escapees from planted gardens and the import of hay from outside of the province is a prime example of the agricultural spread of invasive plants.
In Alberta, under the Alberta Weed Control Act, invasive plants have been grouped into two categories based on their degree of invasiveness:
Noxious Weeds: Those weeds which need to be controlled by property owners.
Prohibited Noxious Weeds: Those weeds which must be destroyed by property owners.
Invasive plants have the potential to damage habitats, reduce biodiversity, increase erosion, cause wildfires, and reduce property values. Aquatic invasive plants are particularly problematic due to the sensitive nature of aquatic habitats which include wetlands, lakes and rivers. Though an aquatic system may contain a prohibited noxious weed, ridding the system of this invasive is not a simple matter of going in and pulling it out. The Alberta Government owns the bed, shores and water of any body of water in Alberta. As such, permits must be applied for under the Water Act as well as the Public Lands Act before removal can take place. This can be a time-consuming process so careful planning is required to ensure the timely issuing of permits for invasive plant removal to occur in a growing season.
At Pintail, we are very happy to consult with you on any invasive plant problem you may have. We can confirm the presence of the plant and work with you on developing a control or complete removal program as well as take steps to prevent or slow re-infestation. We can also help you with any permits which may be required prior to implementing an abatement program.