The invasives are coming, the invasives are coming!
Unfortunately some are already here and aren't going away any time soon.
Monday, March 7, 2011 - 17:18
EOS Alliance restoring a park. (Photo: Calvin Allan)
Last week was National Invasive Species Awareness Week, a whole week devoted to the spread and impact of non-native and invasive species of plants and animals. More importantly the week also focuses on how to slow and stop the spread of these invasives.
It is estimated that invasive species cost the United States $120 billion in damages annually, add the millions more (maybe even billions) that government agencies spend to control their spread and we're talking a nice, shiny penny of gigantic proportions. With humans spreading to all corners of the world and globalization making it "smaller" in terms of travel, the spread of non-native plants and animals has skyrocketed.
When it comes to invasive species, though, most people tend to think more of animals, and with media attention giving them more weight in the news, it's no wonder why that is. Yet invasive plants do a lot of damage, as well, and their impacts are more visible for urban dwellers.
The top invasive culprits for most parks are Himalayan blackberry and English ivy. As one can see walking in any city park, the vines from English ivy slowly creep onto native trees and the smell of Himalayan blackberry permeates as it grows over natives and eventually kills them.
There is hope and there are ways for people to get involved. One way is to help with habitat restoration.
In Seattle, many organizations (like EOS Alliance, where I work) have done their part and have taken to restoring Seattle's forests in public lands like Seward Park, Discovery Park and EOS' own Maple School Natural Area, to name a few. Green Seattle Partnership, a partnership between the City of Seattle (which includes key departments/offices such as Seattle Parks and Recreation, Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment and Seattle Public Utilities) and Cascade Land Conservancy thrives for healthy forests, as outlined in its mission statement: "Creating a sustainable network of healthy forested parklands throughout Seattle, supported by an aware, engaged community."
For our part, EOS Alliance hosted a 350.org 10/10/10 event and work party the first weekend of every month at our habitat restoration site, including one last Saturday. Engaging the community is key. When people learn about local public parks and the various ways to enjoy and use them, or possible uses after restoration, people want to learn more about the history of the parks and ways to help maintain them.
Some facts via EOS Alliance:
— Seattle's at risk of losing 70 percent of its forested parks in just 20 years.
— The average acre of conifer forest captures 13 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
— Conifers along roadways trap soot in their leaves, resulting in cleaner air and reduced incidence of asthma.
— According to Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle's forests provide the equivalent of $1 million per year benefit in stormwater management.
— Himalayan blackberry stems can grow to 15 feet and can travel on the ground for up to 40 feet. As stems touch the ground, they root at the nodes, producing a dense thicket that chokes out native species.
— The extra vegetation from English ivy weakens the plant it grows on, making it more susceptible to disease and blowdown.
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