The provincial government proclaimed June 9-15 as “Invasive Species Week” to help raise awareness of the economic and environmental damage that invasive plants and animals can cause if allowed to spread in British Columbia. British Columbians can get directly involved in halting the introduction and spread of invasive plants by downloading the free “Report-a-Weed” app for iPhones or Android smartphones. The easy-touse interface allows users to submit reports on invasive plant sightings anywhere in BC, upload photos of plants they find, and view previously logged sightings: http://www.reporta weedbc.ca/
The BC government works closely with the Invasive Species Council of BC, regional districts, municipalities and community- based organizations throughout British Columbia to help stop the spread of harmful plants and animals. It also provides ongoing financial assistance to invasive species groups to support their work, which includes surveying and mapping invasive species populations and actively treating highpriority sites.
Local groups, like the ad hoc ‘Halfmoon Bay Broom Busters,’ prove that local action can make a significant difference. For the past four years, teams of volunteers armed with machetes, power saws and shovels have waged war on the prolific Scotch Broom during seasonal blitzes. Individuals take action while out walking the dog, uprooting small seedlings that might not be noticed by passing motorists. The result: a measurable reduction in these encroaching plants, and a resurgence in native species.
In 2013, Halfmoon Bay Elementary Principal Sue Lamb led a team of students in an attack on broom growing in Connor Park. This year, ground formerly choked by the coarse and fibrous plant is cloaked in wild grasses, rippling sensuously in the wind and stabilizing the slopes.
Barry Gibbs, chair of the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia reminds residents that “Invasive Species Week is an important time to encourage people, communities and businesses to take responsible actions to reduce the spread of invasive species and to reduce environmental and economic losses caused by these invasive species – from knapweed to zebra mussels and from nutria to European fire ants.”