Invasive Species Management
What is it?
(this page was augmented by a more complete summary created by the Environmental Law Centre in Edmonton)
Invasive species are plant or animal species that have aggressive growth habitats, and adversely affect local habitats. Usually non-native species, invasive species have the potential to cause significant economic and environmental impacts. An Invasive Species Bylaw prohibits the planting of invasive species and enables the enforcement of invasive species removal. Such a bylaw can be an effective approach to minimizing the spread of invasive species.
How can municipalities use it?
Municipal Invasive Species Management programs may include integrated pest management, natural area management, control of agricultural pests, and homeowner/landowner education programs. Some programs seek to raise awareness of unregulated invasives not yet covered by provincial regulations. In municipalities with Agricultural Service Boards, the municipality has an agricultural fieldman who will be charged with enforcing the provincial legislation to protect the agricultural resources of the community. Increasingly, these people have taken on more natural system management roles due to the water and soil conservation elements of their roles.
In addition to the provincial legislation, the Weed Control Regulation authorizes municipalities to create their own bylaws to control weeds. These are municipal bylaws that can set out the requirements and enforcement mechanisms for invasive species, specifically in this case noxious and prohibited noxious weeds, located within the municipality’s jurisdiction. Municipalities can also designate a higher level of categorization if they it deems it necessary.
What are the advantages?
Invasive Species Management offers the following advantages:
Can coordinate policies and programs across the municipality
Protects native habitat from being destroyed or harmed by invasive species
Protect agricultural production from being harmed by invasive species
Creates a mechanism to better enforce invasive species removal or prohibition of planting
Can offers community education on the identity and impacts of invasive species
Agricultural fieldmen provide on-the-ground inspection, outreach and awareness
Engaging citizens can dramatically extend the impact of municipal resource managers, a necessity for an issue so extensive and aggressive
What should you watch out for?
No tool is a silver bullet. Implementation of Invasive Species Management initiatives should consider the following:
Invasive species reporting, mapping, and monitoring is necessary to enforce invasive species regulations
May be difficult to enforce controls due to the extensive nature of invasives
May be some pushback from community (i.e. residents wishing to plant an ornamental species that is listed as invasive)
Invasive plants can be attractive and even sold in garden centres, exacerbating management challenges
The Weed Control Regulation only refrences municipal bylaw powers for 'weeds', not aquatic or other invasives
Coordination with provincial inspectors can be challenging
How can it help maintain natural infrastructure?
Invasive plants and animals (including aquatics) can easily overtake vital natural infrastructure assets, impairing their ability to function as they normally would (e.g., outcompeted native fish, plants and algae overwhelming water systems, overtaking agronomic species, biodiversity loss and local extirpation of animals, etc.). The impact on these natural system functions can dramatically reduce the tangible and intangible benefits we derive from them. Programs to manage the establishment and spread of invasives protect these functions.
Weed Control Act – The Province of Alberta enacted the Weed Control Act in 2008 to control noxious weeds, destroy and halt spread of prohibited noxious seeds, regulate the disposal and storage of weed seeds, and regulate seed cleaning facilities.
Weeds – Government of Alberta - This Government of Alberta web page gives an overview of the provincial and federal legislation that relates to invasive plants (weeds).
Aquatic Invasive Species – Government of Alberta - This Government of Alberta web page gives an overview of the often-forgotten aquatic invasives, including the regulations and individual best practices.
Alberta Invasive Plant Identification Guide – Produced by Wheatland County in 2017, and distributed by the Alberta Association of Agricultural Fieldmen, this guide provides identification information on the prohibited-noxious and noxious plants in Alberta.
Alberta Invasive Species Council – Alberta Invasive Species Council (AISC) is a not-for-profit society dedicated to engage and empower Albertans to take action against invasive species. AISC partners with jurisdictions, agencies, and groups to collaboratively develop integrated, long-term management programs.
AISC Invasive Species Fact Sheets - The AISC developed a series of fact sheets on prohibited noxious species (must be removed by landowners) noxious species (must be contained from spreading), agricultural pests, and unregulated but potential harmful plants
AISC Grow Me Instead – A comprehensive brochure to help citizens identify – and replace – invasive plants that are common in gardens and garden centres.
Invasive Species Tracking – The AISC partnered with EDDMapS, a web-based mapping system for documenting invasive species and pest distribution.
Non-native and Invasive Species Management: A Review of Policies and Practices – A report by the Battle River Watershed Alliance including management considerations for aquatic and terrestrial species, and a scan of current practices across jurisdictions
AUMA Aquatic invasive species – The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association maintains a web page on aquatic invasives, including a description of their policy and resolutions.
Several municipalities maintain invasive species information pages on their web site, including:
Did we miss something?
If you know of a resource that should be on this list - or your municipality has a sample or case that should be here, please let us know!