Invasive Species Removal, North Carolina Museum of Art Restoring Nature's Beauty in Natives Posted on March 12, 2014 by UPLLC

The Unique Places team recently removed 12 acres of invasive non-native plants from the outdoor Museum Park at the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA). Along with opening up the walking trails and revealing more scenic creek views along the park’s riparian zones, the work improves the health of the landscape and invited the return of native vegetation and native wildlife.

Invasive species present one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and levy an estimated 1.4 trillion dollars of damage to native ecosystems. Invasive species are introduced to our landscape in a variety of ways – accidentally or intentionally – through trade, transport, and agriculture.  And when they are, they run wild. They outcompete native plants taking up more and more space in the natural landscape. Invasive species kill forest trees, shade out other plants and compete for food and space that interfere with native species growth, reproduction and development. One reason these invasive species thrive is because of a lack of a natural predator.

In contrast, native plants and animals evolve together and adapt to have natural checks and balances over time. For this reason, Jeff Stewart, Unique Places Director of Invasive Species says, “It is important to remove them from our landscape. No habitat is immune from the threat of invasive plants. Truth be told, you may have unintentionally given them a prominent position in your backyard.”


NCMA outdoor space before invasive species removal

“One of the most effective strategies to prevent the spread of invasive species is early detection and education,” adds Stewart. “Making informed, responsible choices about what to put in your landscape fights the spread of invasive plants.”Unique Places’ evaluation of the NCMA property began with determining what invasive species are posing the most significant threat to the park and in what areas. The team focused on the riparian zones as they are the most ecologically diverse and most affected by the invasive plants. Currently, Unique Places has removed nine invasive species: Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinese), Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), English ivy (Hedera helix), Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana), Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera Japonica), White mulberry (Morus alba), Leatherleaf mahonia (Mahonia bealei) and Common periwinkle (Vinca minor).

David Tart, Unique Places Assistant Land Steward commented, “The removal of English ivy is particularly difficult as it can grow up to 100 feet in length. It is native to Europe and was introduced into the United States by early settlers for ornamental purposes. It can grow along the ground, where it can displace native understory species. Or it can grow in the tree canopy, where it can slowly cover and kill the entire tree. Like other invasive vines, English ivy creates ‘ivy desserts’ that quickly overrun and choke out other plants, yards, buildings and trees.”

Dan Gottlieb, NCMA Museum Planner and Park Director, shares, “The work Unique Places has accomplished along the Park’s riparian zones is transformative; opening views to beautiful locations along the invasive-buried creek, revealing elegant stands of old growth trees. Visitors are already commenting on the improvements, and I can see that with continued work to restore the healthy landscape, the entire Museum Park will be an even more welcoming and attractive public place – I guess you can say a unique place – where art, recreation, and good environmental practices work in harmony.”

NCMA_after_invasive species removal

NCMA outdoor park after invasive species removal

With the removal of the invasive species and opening up the Museum’s outdoor areas, Unique Places completed the first phase in meeting the Museum’s overall goal to expand recreation and art appreciation in those areas. Unique Places has plans to continue its work in the spring to complete a foliar treatment and to monitor any re-sprouts of the previous invasive plants.

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