Non-Native Invasive Species The Problem and the Landowner's Role Posted on September 16, 2014 by UPLLC

The loss and degradation of wildlife habitat is occurring every day. Some contributing factors, such as population increase and climate change, are largely out of our control. However, there are some things that landowners can do, even on a small scale, to help combat this growing problem. One such thing is planting native plants and removing non-native invasive species. Native plants are indigenous or naturalized to a given area in a geologic time and generally have existed for many years in an area. Invasive species, or non-natives, are species introduced to an area that have a tendency to spread and can cause damage to the environment and ecology of the area.

It is true that not all non-native plants have a negative impact on the environment. However, those that do can have serious detrimental effects. Invasive plants can quickly invade a natural area and displace native vegetation. When native vegetation is displaced, biodiversity is decreased and the overall health of the ecosystem is diminished. When this happens, you will see less variety in showy flowers, interesting insects, and soothing song birds. Native plants and animals have had many years to evolve together and develop natural checks and balances. The invasion of non-native plants disrupts this working ecosystem.

Landowners and property managers can help reduce the negative impacts on wildlife and natural areas by controlling invasive plants on their property. Invasive plants can decrease property value, make it very difficult to access all parts of the property, and greatly reduce the aesthetics. In addition, they can prove more expensive in maintenance and upkeep.

Even if you own a small lot, controlling invasive plants on your property and planting a variety of native plants can bring in diverse wildlife and act as a corridor for migrating wildlife species. In contrast, just having a few non-native invasive plants on a small lot can potentially have a large impact on adjacent natural areas. All it takes is a few wildlife or wind dispersed seeds for invasive plants to take over a natural area. If you have a larger piece of property, controlling non-native invasive plants and encouraging the growth of natives can have tremendous benefits in enhancing wildlife, ease of maintenance and increasing biodiversity.

Although controlling invasive plants on your property can seem like a daunting task, it is possible to achieve. There are land management organizations and cost share programs available that can help make these projects less of a financial burden. For more information on non-native invasive species control or to start a project on your property, contact Jeff Stewart, Director of Invasive Species Management.

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