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Invasive Species Awareness Week – Spread the Word, Not the Species!

Posted: March 3, 2017

by Colin Cassin, Ontario Invasive Plant Council

Invasive plants such as water soldier and purple loosestrife are excellent competitors and can quickly outcompete native species such as cattails and bulrushes.

Invasive species are the second leading cause of biodiversity loss globally. You read that correctly, the emerald ash borer, kudzu and Asian carps, and other invasive species are responsible for eliminating species from our environment at alarming rates!

It’s not all doom-and-gloom, as this presents us with a heck of an opportunity to move the needle on conserving species (and genetic!) diversity. Ontarians are well positioned to address the threat of invasive species in our woodlots, urban parks and fishing holes. We have the tools, we have the will, and we have the interest, and now is the time to bring them together to create a measurable impact in our natural environment.

Sure, eradicating garlic mustard, Phragmites, and buckthorn from Ontario is a tall order, and perhaps beyond the reach of any one individual, but small-scale actions lead to landscape-level “wins” which add up to big-picture solutions. We saw tremendous results in mitigating the impact of invasive purple loosestrife, and now is the time to say goodbye to more pesky invasive species. Dog-strangling vine, Phragmites and Japanese knotweed – you’ve been warned!

 Spread the Word, Not the Species

In order to help prevent new species invasions and fight off established invaders, we need to do a better job at getting the message out to Ontarians. Invasive species pose a serious threat to our collective economy and environment and we need to reach “new” groups of people with our important information. Invasive species have a funny way of finding cracks between organizational mandates and property boundaries, so it behooves us all to become aware of their impacts and understand what our role is in stopping their spread.

Invasive dog-strangling vine can invade open meadows and woodlots. Its ability to produce high numbers of seeds in a relatively short time can cause dense populations to form which impede use of natural spaces.


To help spread the word on Ontario’s biggest invasive species success stories we have created a week-long outreach campaign, Invasive Species Awareness Week. In 2016 Forests Ontario joined the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, Invading Species Awareness Program and Invasive Species Centre to promote an invasive species outreach campaign and the results were fantastic! We were able to share important information on invasive species issues with people across the province. The campaign success did not go unnoticed and as a result we have more than 30 organizations joining the campaign in 2017!

Between February 27th and March 3rd our campaign collaborative will be “spreading the word, not the species” across all major social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. To join the conversation, please search #InvSpWk in your preferred social media website. You do not need an account to see the great information being shared by any of our campaign partners.

Other Ways to Stop the Spread

Would you prefer to get your hands dirty in the fight to control invasive species? Not a problem! As we approach the upcoming field season, I’d like to remind you that there are fantastic invasive species stewardship initiatives happening across the province and they are always looking for eager volunteers! Check with your local Conservation Authority, Land Trust, Provincial Park, or Lake Association to see what’s being done in your neighbourhood to stop the spread of invasive species. There is a lot to do, and we all have a role to play in preventing the spread of invasives in our communities.

For more information on invasive plants, and what is being done to mitigate their impact in Ontario, please visit the Ontario Invasive Plant Council website at


Colin is the Project Specialist at the Ontario Invasive Plant Council and coordinates the Early Detection & Rapid Response Network, a citizen science program that trains Ontarians to identify the next “big” invasive species. For more invasive species content find him on Twitter at @ConservationCol.