Invasive Species Awareness Week
Essex Region – It’s National Invasive Species Awareness Week, which aims at bringing attention to invasive species and their environmental impact. “Phragmites is probably one of the most devastating invasive species that our region is presently facing,” said Kevin Money, ERCA’s Director of Conservation Area. “It reduces biodiversity, can dry up a wetland and can affect agriculture and road safety.” This tall growing reed has become dominant in Essex County’s wetlands, along ditches and in other wet areas. Because it releases toxins from its roots, it kills surrounding plants, creating a monoculture that has a negative impact on wildlife.
In 2016, ERCA undertook a pilot project to restore a 117 acre managed wetland cell through Phragmites removal at Hillman Marsh Conservation Area. This multi-phase project included GPS mapping of phragmites, specialized herbicide application, hand-removal and monitoring activities. As well, an educational video was created, and a public workshop hosted in partnership with the Windsor-Essex County Environment Committee Green Speaker series.
“One of the problems with phragmites is that it is extremely difficult to control, and herbicides cannot be applied near water,” Money cautions. Research continues on best practices to control this species. When gardening, never plant phragmites or any other invasive species. For a list of native plants that are well suited to the Essex region, check out ERCA’s Native Plant Guide online at www.erca.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Native-Plant-Guide-for-web.pdf .
A video of ERCA’s pilot project to control invasive phragmites can be viewed here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKRR8h7zJgo&t=2s .
For more than four decades, Essex Region Conservation has been sustaining and enriching the environment of the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region to ensure it is the Place for Life.