Forests Ontario

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Government Reintroduces the Invasive Species Act

 

In Canada, invasive species are recognized as the second greatest threat to biodiversity next to habitat loss. The province of Ontario is plagued by invasive species on land and water causing negative effects to our environment, economy, society and human health. Sadly, due to environmental and sociological factors, the threat is growing. Properly managing invasive species is a challenging task that requires a number of tools, but often the toolbox is lacking. There has always been a need for more options for Ontarians to use against this ever growing problem. Finally there is something in the works.

In early November, Bill Mauro, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, announced the reintroduction of the Invasive Species Act, the first act of its kind in Canada. The reintroduction of this act, along with its proposed tools, is essential in responding to the growing threat of invasive species. The act will support the prevention, early detection, rapid response and eradication of these species. Four key initiatives will be used to successfully mitigate the problems that these species cause and will give Ontarians a better opportunity to more efficiently and cost-effectively deal with them on their own properties. “The Ontario Invasive Plant Council (OIPC) sees this act as a significant step in the fight against invasive species,” says Rachel Gagnon, Coordinator at the OIPC. “The Act promises to be an important tool for land managers in this province. It signals the need for more management options, and the need for collaboration between organizations and the government –

two concepts that the OIPC strongly supports.”

Ontario’s forests, particularly those in the south, have been challenged by invasive species, among them the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), Dog-Strangling Vine, Asian Longhorn Beetle, and European Buckthorn to name a few. Ash trees were hit particularly hard this year by the EAB, leading to exceedingly high removal rates of these trees in areas across much of the province. The challenges posed by invasive species to the natural environment will, if unaddressed, continue to negatively impact forests and habitats.

“Our forests provide vital ecological services to our province,” says Rob Keen, CEO Forests Ontario. “We are pleased by the government’s move to reintroduce this important piece of legislation and we look forward to working alongside the government and organizations like OIPC to implement long-term solutions to protect our natural resources.”

Following the bill’s introduction, posted on the Environmental Bill of Rights (EBR) website, organizations such as the OIPC and Forests Ontario wrote the government to express support for the bill and to articulate their willingness to help facilitate implementation wherever possible in areas of prevention, early detection, rapid response and control.

“We at the OIPC understand that any efforts to deal with these species require collaboration between government, private organizations, and citizens in order to have a timely and effective response,” said Gagnon. “Working in tandem with organizations like Forests Ontario will enable us to further the fight for healthy, invasive-free ecological communities.”