Some potential impacts of invasive plants in the Cowichan Valley:
- Degradation of native ecosystems and wildlife habitat
- Loss of biodiversity, including endangered species
- Increased wildfire hazards and soil erosion
- Threats to human and animal health (english ivy attracts black rats)
- Increased maintenance costs for landowners
- Reduction or elimination of recreational values (land and water)
- Economic impacts such as to agriculture and infrastructure
A few folks in Chemainus have committed to ridding Askew Park of English Ivy as a way to do something tangible for our community to address environmental and climate change issues. I was visiting my daughter at UVIC the other day and when I told her what we were up to, her first response was, "Aw, but's so pretty."
For years I shared that feeling -- however I've learned that English Ivy has become an invasive species we will likely never be completely rid of here, and that it chokes out the natural ecosystems, causing soil and bank erosion, harbours black rats and increases the sail of a tree it climbs, making it easier to knock down in a big wind. Basically, over time it smothers forests.
And listening to our own local expert on invasive species and stream- side restoration, David Poltser, the other night at his talk -- Management of Invasive Species & Restoring Stream-sides -- I learned how important it is to do what we can to keep this plant under control and tips on how to do so.
Step one is to cut the ivy off the trees, using secaturs or loppers. cut a six inch band around the whole tree taking that portion out. Leave the leaves and vines on the tree, they will die. Work on areas of least infestation first, as they are easier to deal with and ignoring them they soon become overgrown.
Be careful not to disturb what is underneath the ivy too much -- try rolling and cutting what is on the ground. For further directions, check out this youtube.
To learn about other species and how to deal with them, check out what Saanich is doing.
And if you want to join some of the funnest, friendliest and committed groups around and help with the Askew Ivy pull, give Gail Calderwood, North Cowichan Environment Committee Chair a call at 250-246-4900 to get on our mailing list.
It would be great to have you out.
Our next pull is going to be Saturday, April 11th, from 1 pm to 3 pm. Meet on Oak Street entrance just across from 49th Parallel grocery store.
I recently became Chair of North Cowichan Parks and Recreation Committee. If you have a group that would like to work on eradicating or controlling a species in a North Cowichan park, drop me an email. firstname.lastname@example.org