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Invasive species can threaten P.E.I. economy (archive)

Published on Monday September 14, 2015
Authored by PEIISC

Invasive species can threaten P.E.I. economy (The Guardian)

Maureen Coulter

Published on September 14, 2015

Watershed group develops invasive species identification program to help the P.E.I. Invasive Species Council

Along the picturesque winding roads in Prince Edward Island, many people enjoy the sight of lupins as they stare out their window on a summer day.Though pretty to look at, lupins, along with purple loosestrife, creeping buttercup and lily-of-the-valley, are invasive species to the Island.That means it is an organism – either plant, animal, insect or disease – introduced to an area outside of its native range.LIST: Top invading species on P.E.I.“It has the ability to spread rapidly and it threatens the economic, environmental and social health of the area that it has been introduced to,” said Julie-Lynn Zahavich, Spotters network co-ordinator with the P.E.I. Invasive Species Council.

Many invasive species are now considered ubiquitous as they have become too widespread to deal with. That includes lupins and creeping buttercup.

The P.E.I. Invasive Species Council is now looking for new and uncommon species.

Invasive species can pose environmental problems, including creating competition for species at risk, displacing native species, altering waterways and soil chemistry.

INVASION FOCUS: On hogweed and mustard

They can even reduce the biodiversity of an area to the point where they are a monoculture, meaning nothing else grows there.

There are currently 63 invasive species on the P.E.I. Invasive Species Council’s list.

Some of them are brought here by accident, by way of ornamental plants for gardens and flowerbeds, said Kelly Arnold, Stratford watershed group co-ordinator.

“They don’t realize that once it gets out into nature, it becomes pretty vicious and spreads.”

It has the ability to spread rapidly and it threatens the economic, environmental and social health of the area that it has been introduced to.

Julie-Lynn Zahavich, P.E.I. Invasive Species Council.

In preventing invasive species from coming to P.E.I., it’s all about education and awareness, said Zahavich.

“With the Spotters Network, we are hoping to get reports of species that we don’t have on the Island yet so that we can deal with them before they become widespread and out of control like a number of invasives have on the Island.”

To help with identifying invasive species, the Stratford watershed group is now on the lookout for non-native organisms.

Arnold said they have noticed a growing number of invasive species in the Stratford area over the past two years.

“Everywhere we turn it seems there is something there that shouldn’t be there,” she said.

They have found purple loosestrife, Japanese knotweed, garlic mustard, goutweed and oriental bittersweet.

“You can see it’s starting to take over certain areas and the native plants that are there are being swallowed up basically by these invasives.”

Thanks to the work of the Stratford watershed group in identifying invasives, the P.E.I. Invasive Species Council now has a good handle on what is happening in the Stratford area.

“If we can get these little watershed groups, these little pockets of information, and pull it all together, we can have a really good idea of what we have on P.E.I.,” said Zahavich. “It would be great if everyone (other watershed groups) followed suit.”

To learn more about invasives, plants or to report an invasive, visit If you are in the Stratford area go to

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