Invasive plants are changing the face of America and can cause significant ecological and economic harm. They may impact wildlife by choking out natural habitats such as freshwater wetlands, causing loss of available food, or altering habitat structure or function. They are a leading threat to native biodiversity, second only to habitat destruction.
The importance of minimizing the spread of invasive plants means they are a common focus of restoration projects. However, our challenge is the majority of these take place at a relatively small scale, commonly in areas of single or few ownerships. Invasive plants span property boundaries and, once a species is established in a region, a restoration will always be subject to reinfestation from surrounding areas unless a landscape scale strategic approach is taken to prioritizing control projects. Taking a large scale approach and prioritizing shared “battles” will allow restoration projects to remain more effective in the long term and maximizes efficient use of resources.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and N.H. Natural Heritage Bureau have teamed up with over 120 community members, natural resource managers and academics to develop a statewide strategic prioritization plan for the control of upland, wetland, and intertidal invasive plant species based on the ecological significance of an area, the ecological services provided, and the potential for invasive plant species to spread to new areas.
This statewide plan has been used to develop a customized invasive plant control strategy for each New Hampshire municipality. These strategies contain a map showing priority areas where invasive plant removal will have the most immediate impact and most effectively protect our native natural resources in the long-term. They also show a customized “early detection” list of plant species just coming into each community. Focusing on control of these species may prevent them becoming fully established and stop their spread to neighboring towns. Consideration of the landscape scale is particularly important in the face of climate change as alterations in species ranges are likely. We hope this prioritization tool is useful to Conservation Commission Members, Watershed groups and natural resource managers; anyone who may spearhead getting an invasive plant project on the ground.
Only by working together on shared invasive plant “battles” across differing land ownerships and political boundaries, can we effectively protect our native plants and wildlife habitat in the long term. You are a vital partner in helping translate this strategy into on the ground action. Thanks for being part of the team!
If you have questions about the invasive plants prioritization strategy, please contact email@example.com. For questions about invasive plant species in New Hampshire, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Rachel Stevens, NH Fish & Game
Taking Action for Wildlife Winter 2015 Newsletter