The British Columbia government is investing $2.2 million in a pilot project over the next three years to explore new ways of managing invasive plants in the Thompson-Nicola region, MLA for Fraser-Nicola Jackie Tegart and Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson announced today.
The three-year project is the result of an extensive stakeholder consultation process led by Tegart. The project is aimed at expanding and improving current efforts to contain and eradicate spotted knapweed and other invasive plants in the region.
Protecting Ecosystem Health and Agricultural Values: A Strategy for Crown Land Invasive Plant Management in the Thompson Nicola will be delivered in partnership with the BC Cattlemen’s Association, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the Southern Interior Weed Management Committee.
The new approach provides stable funding over the next three years, allowing three-year, as opposed to one-year, invasive plant management plans to be developed and provides a 150% increase over the previous funding commitment to invasive plant management in the Thompson-Nicola.
Initially targeting the Nicola Valley, the strategy’s focus will be toward locally developed invasive plant priorities in areas where knapweed and other invasive plants have spread significantly in recent years. The partnership will strengthen the co-ordination of invasive plant treatments on Crown land and private land. Invasive weeds do not recognize property boundaries.
Funding also will support research being undertaken by Thompson Rivers University for a centre of excellence on invasive plant management to deepen our understanding and identify new opportunities for new treatment approaches and restoration of impacted ecosystems.
Some invasive plants, such as hawkweed or knapweed, can grow very quickly and become so dominant that they crowd out native species and forage grasses. This can considerably reduce the amount of food available for rangeland animals — by up to 90% in the case of spotted knapweed.
This pilot project is part of the Province’s enhanced approach to invasive plant management. Instead of providing money year-by-year, weed committees will be getting multi-year funding upfront to enable more effective and longer-term planning. Over the next three years, the Province is committing over $20 million to invasive plant management. Lessons learned from the Thompson-Nicola pilot project will help improve invasive plant management practices in other parts of British Columbia.
Jackie Tegart, MLA for Fraser-Nicola –
“The strategy released today is the outcome of an extensive stakeholder process that I had the pleasure of leading. Ranching is an important economic driver in the Thompson Nicola, and invasive plants are a major threat to ranching viability.”
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson –
“If this new approach is successful in the Thompson-Nicola, I look forward to expanding it to other areas of the province.”
Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Todd Stone –
“My ministry understands the serious impact that invasive plants can have on our environment and on our transportation infrastructure. This is an important investment that will benefit farmers, ranchers and all British Columbians, and I look forward to seeing its benefits spread into other areas of the province in the future.”
- Invasive plants are non-native (alien) plants whose introduction to British Columbia either cause or are likely to cause economic damage, environmental damage, or harm to human health.
- Invasive plants can spread rapidly, crowd out native species, alter ecosystems, reduce forage for wildlife and livestock, and take over natural and managed areas.
- Many invasive plants that make their way to B.C. are not kept in check because they don’t have their natural enemies present (e.g.,specific insects) that limit the growth of these plants in their native ranges.
Providing leadership for invasive plant management projects is one of the ways that the B.C. government is taking action to strengthen, grow and diversify rural communities.
The invasive plant pilot project builds on the immediate investments and long-term action plan outlined in B.C.’s Rural Economic Development Strategy, which are expected to create over 26,000 jobs and add $2.8 billion to the provincial GDP.
Learn more about B.C.’s Rural Economic Development Strategy:
Download a copy of Protecting Ecosystem Health and Agricultural Values: A Strategy for Crown Land Invasive Plant Management in the Thompson Nicola:
Invasive Plant Program: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/plants/index.htm
B.C. Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group:
Invasive Species Council of British Columbia: http://www.bcinvasives.ca
A backgrounder follows.