Invasive species are species of plants, animals and micro-organisms that have been introduced outside of their past or present, natural distribution. Their introduction has the potential to cause serious damage to the environment, the economy and social values.
Invasive species do not need to travel far to be invasive. Some species come from neighbouring ecosystems, while others come from neighbouring countries. Meanwhile, many travel from as far away as other continents.
Invasive vs. Noxious
weed + alien + exotic + non-native
In the area of plant management, the terms 'invasive plant' and 'noxious weed' are often used synonymously. Many people used these terms incorrectly. Noxious weeds should only be used to refer to species that are listed provincially or regionally in the British Columbia Weed Control Act and Regulations. Noxious weeds are species that landowners and occupiers have a legal responsibility to manage. Meanwhile, invasive plants is more of a contemporary, catch-all term and can be used to refer to species that may or may not be also be listed as noxious. Clear as mud?
Impacts of Invasive Species.
Invasive species are known to have a wide range of impacts wherever they establish and spread. Their environmental, social, and economic effects can be alarming and very often, irreversible.
Invasive species are among the world's greatest threats to the survival of our wild animal and plant life. These invaders arrive, often accidentally, from elsewhere in the world and, in the absence of natural predators, kill, crowd out or otherwise devastate native species and their ecosystems. Invasive species also have the ability to hybridize with some native species, effectively reducing the genetic purity and advantages of naturally occurring species.
From an economic standpoint, invasive species have the ability to disrupt important industries to the region including agriculture, recreation, forestry, and hydro electric power generation, for example. A number of academic studies in Canada and the United States have estimated impacts to these industries from invasive species to number in the billions of dollars. In a region like the East Kootenay where so much of our economy is dependent on natural resources, it is critical that we make every effort to prevent the spread of invasive species and control those that do establish themselves.
Some invasive species can be threatening to human health, safety, and recreational values. Giant Hogweed and can burn skin and cause permanent damage. Meanwhile, other invasive species can reduce the quality of recreational activities such as; hunting, fishing, hiking and biking.
How do Invasive Species Get here?
Invasive Plants have been introduced to the East Kootenay through many different methods. However, one commonality is that humans are typically the culprits of knowingly or unknowingly spreading these harmful species. The most common pathways of spread include but, are not limited to:
Dispersal of seeds and root fragments by birds, wildlife, livestock, pets, humans, vehicles, boats, wind and water.
Introduction as an ornamental plant, or commercial crop.
Introduction through contaminated seed, animal feed, or forage.
Improper disposal of garden waste and aquariums.