Humans have had a tremendous impact on their environment. We are so efficient at destroying natural habitats that in the last 100 years or so we have started to compensate by setting aside certain lands as conservation lands, to preserve species, biosystems, and areas of natural beauty and historical importance, before these areas all disappear.
Simply setting aside these areas is not enough to preserve them. Another side-effect of human activity – invasive plants – is threatening these conservation lands.
What Are Invasive Plants ?
Invasive plants are non-native organisms that have, or are likely to, spread into native or minimally managed plant systems and cause economic or environmental harm by developing self-sustaining populations and becoming dominant or disruptive to those systems.
Where Do Invasive Plants Come From ?
Invasive plants are disruptive because they show up without natural enemies or competitors. This is usually because they been transported far from their natural homes by the actions of humans, either accidently or deliberately. When plants move on their own – via wind dispersal or other natural means of propagation – the plants and animals that eat them, or otherwise control their spread, have time to travel with them. It's when plants are suddenly carried from one continent to another that problems of invasion typically occur.
The same qualities that make species invasive – hardy, early and fast growth, able to grow in multiple habitats, copious and highly viable seed production and dispersal – also make them popular with gardeners and landscape professionals. Plants like Norway Maple, Yellow Flag Iris, and Burning Bush have been planted by generations of homeowners and landscapers, and now are invading our conservation lands. Other invasive plants were brought over for agricultural land – in the case of Multiflora Rosa, in an attempt to help build 'living fences'. Others are accidental travelers, such as many of the aquatic invaders, which came over in the bilge water of ships or as tropical aquarium plants.
What Invasives are on Acton Public Lands?
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What can be done about Invasive Plants?
We can pick them, smother them, use herbicides, or introduce biological controls. There are a wide variety of methods that can work, depending on what plants are being treated, how large the invasion is, how much volunteer energy there is vs. how much money for professional treatments, what the desired end result is, and more.
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Who is Working on Invasive Plant Issues in Acton?
Many homeowners and landscapers in Acton have been working to rid their yards of invasives such as Bittersweet, Buckthorn, Japanese Knotweed, and Black Swallow-wort. Efforts on Acton Conservation lands are newer. The Acton Land Stewardship Committee, a volunteer group working under the auspices of the Conservation Commission to maintain Acton public lands, has just started working on this problem. We will shortly be working on removing a large invasion of Norway Maple in the Acton Arboretum. We are researching plans for other removal efforts.
How can I help?
Please sign up below to help out with either planning efforts, or the work teams. Planning efforts involves inventorying invasions on Acton public lands, helping to prioritize the work, and identify what control techniques are appropriate for each high-priority invasion. Work teams will identify and remove targeted invasive plants.
For more information please contact:
Acton Land Stewardship Committee