Our stellar team of ecologists, conservationists and other brilliant –ists are taking advantage of Invasive Species Awareness Week to highlight some notorious species that are doing a number on our local ecosystems here in the Pacific Northwest. To kick off the week, we thought we’d start with a little IS101.
So what exactly is an invasive species?
On a basic level, most invasive species are non-native organisms (plant, animal, insect, etc.) that have been ‘introduced’ into an environment. Because they’re not native, no natural predators exist to control their spread. This allows the invasive free rein over the ecosystem and eventually leads to a monoculture—meaning after a while, the invasive completely takes over. This is the primary reason invasive species are bad, they kill, crowd out or otherwise remove native species and biodiversity from our environment.
While they sound evil, invasives don’t necessarily look evil—oftentimes people even plant them. Next time you’re driving on the highway, look on the roadsides for Scotch broom. Like many invasive plants Scotch broom was introduced by highway departments as erosion control for steep slopes. In addition to intentional introduction of invasive species, invasives can also arrive to a new location as stowaways in cargo ship holds or as part of the ballast waters from these ships that get discharged into local waters; Zebra Mussels enter the U.S. this way.
Controlling and eradicating invasive species costs billions of dollars each year. Commercial, agricultural and recreational activities depend on healthy native ecosystems, so controlling invasives is critical. It can often seem like an uphill battle, but it is a necessary one if we hope to have healthy and thriving ecosystems. We are thankful for Forterra’s Stewardship team of Native Species Super Heroes who, along with the vital help of volunteers, fight back these evil invasives to keep our ecosystem vibrant and healthy.
We hope you enjoy this week’s tour of a few of Pacific Northwest’s invasive species…and more importantly, we hope it inspires you to volunteer to join in the fight in the future! Here are our featured invasives:
- Bohemian knotweed: A knotty problem around the world
- Yellow archangel: the devil’s in the details
- Himalayan blackberry: Robust bullies
- English ivy: what a creep!