Saint Andrews works to raise awareness of invasive species in area

·2 min read
Japanese knotwood in Saint Andrews. The New Brunswick Invasive Species Council warns that invasive species of plants can weed out native species if not managed. (Stephanie L Turner/inaturalist.ca/Big Backyard BioBlitz - image credit)
Japanese knotwood in Saint Andrews. The New Brunswick Invasive Species Council warns that invasive species of plants can weed out native species if not managed. (Stephanie L Turner/inaturalist.ca/Big Backyard BioBlitz - image credit)

The Town of Saint Andrews is growing concerned as invasive species become a more common sight in the area.

Plants like giant hogweed and Japanese barberry and wildlife species like European fire ants can interfere with native plants and animals.

"We're starting to see a little bit of proliferation of it, but I think there's an opportunity for education and a way to work with the community to show that we can manage these situations," said Paul Nopper, clerk and senior administrator for the town.

In early October, the New Brunswick Invasive Species Council presented a series of recommendations to the town to help curb the spread of non-native species and to educate the public on the impact invasive species can have.

Mrinali Anchan/CBC
Mrinali Anchan/CBC

Kristin Elton, the program director of the New Brunswick Invasive Species Council, said there have been more reported sightings of invasive plants by the general public.

According to observations filed in iNaturalist, a social network of naturalists, citizen scientists, and biologists, there have been 20 reported sightings of the Japanese barberry. It can spread rapidly and out-compete native plants for space and resources.

Elton said for a town like Saint Andrews, tourism and gardening can be possible vectors for the spread of non-native species.

Giant hogwood is also a big concern, and according to iNaturalist, it has been reported twice in areas just outside of Saint Andrews.

Mrinali Anchan/CBC (left)/ Meghan Grguric/University of Guelph (right)
Mrinali Anchan/CBC (left)/ Meghan Grguric/University of Guelph (right)

Growing to heights of almost 10 metres, the plant has a phytotoxic sap that can cause third degree burns on skin when exposed to sunlight. If ingested, it can lead to blindness or severe illness.

Further troubling to Elton is the ease at which the plant is able to reproduce. Its flower heads contain over 1,000 seeds each, which can be spread by the wind or by flood waters.

Nopper said the town encourages residents and visitors to visit the website, which helps identify areas where people see invasive species and educates community members on what to look for.

"Some of these invasive species are being sold at garden centres or people are bringing them up and planting them in thinking they look great in their gardens. But not necessarily understanding what they are and what type of species they are and if they're invasive or not."

Nopper said, as the community expands, it's important to correctly manage these species.

The town plans on educating the public by working with the New Brunswick Invasive Species Council to provide resources on non-native species by early next year.

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