Invasive species crowd out locals

They may look pretty, but broom and other plants have a very big downside

 The threat of invasive species is serious to the stability of our ever diminishing ecosystems.  I am an advocate for the preservation of our heritage. Be it the lumber industry or otherwise, I believe that it is our responsibility as the residents of this area to preserve the natural ecosystem and mend it where due.  

Invasive species, while beautiful in their own right, destroy that heritage. We would not bulldoze a natural area, spread blacktop, paint it green and call it a greenspace. I likewise feel as strongly against the use of introduced species to do the work of our native plants.

Where one of those species stands, countless others have been forced out. The walking path at Fern Road East is a prime example. Swedish ivy has been allowed to proliferate and has replaced other plant fungi and lichens which would continue the cycle of the forest. The larger species that depend on those ground covers dwindle in this altered environment.  

There are comparable species within our own ecosystem. Vines such as honeysuckle can easily replace the beloved ivy. There are several varieties native to our area some of which are evergreen. As a bonus, it offers lovely smelling blossoms to the hummingbirds and sweet berries to the finches, where ivy does not.

Broom was noted for its ability to quickly conceal marred land.  Of course our ecosystem has its own fire-climax plants. They are the gateway plants in the natural cycle of our temperate rainforest. They readily disperse seed to survive fires. They are very quick to root to stabilize erosion.  

Alder is primary to prepare the soil for cedar and other sturdier plants. A wide variety of wonderful wild flowers such as columbine are in this group. Salal is a quick rooting lush evergreen with delicate flowers.  Its berries are not only tasty to the birds but make a wonderful pie. 

I mentioned I am partial to pies but disagree that blackberry belongs as a plant in our ecosystem.  Huckleberry is a delightful alternative, especially with salal berries.  Wild roses can provide a sanctuary for the birds. It does well here on the Agricultural Land Reserve.

If you’re worried for the hummingbirds and the bees that thrive on thistle, think of the millions of wild flowers that they would normally be enjoying. There are enough nectar rich flowers in our natural ecosystem to support them.  You may be surprised to hear that we have a selection of rare orchids indigenous only to our region. Notoriously tender, they are suffering greatly in the struggle against all of these aforementioned invasive species.

Meghann Doyle

Qualicum Beach

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