Tackling Invasive Plants Through Community Engagement

With an eye to doing more to tackle the persistent presence of invasive species found in the biosphere, the Beaver Hills Biosphere Reserve Association (BHBRA) has partnered with Elk Island National Park (EINP) to offer an engaging invasive plant workshop, open to residents, Indigenous peoples and landowners in the region.

Invasive plants are a common issue throughout the Beaver Hills Biosphere. Armed with the potential to replace native species, lower biodiversity and decrease the overall value of forage, these invaders can have significant economic impacts on the landscape. With many different government and non-government organizations, businesses and residents managing invasive plants at different levels and in different areas, there was a need for a collective approach, on a regional scale, in invasive species management and awareness.

“With the variety of land managers and landowners in the biosphere, we saw an opportunity to work together with partners to establish a regional approach to identifying, managing and sharing best practices,” shares Brian Ilnicki, Executive Director with the BHBRA.

To launch this regional collaborative effort, the BHBRA and EINP have joined forces and will be offering an online workshop in early 2021. The virtual workshop will explore core issues, share current management practices and identify needs for further dialogue and applied research regarding invasive species.

“We’re bringing together people across the biosphere – government departments, NGOs, industry, academia, Indigenous peoples and community residents – to create a Community of Practice (CoP) for increased knowledge sharing and cooperation,” shares Pinette Robinson, Conservation and Restoration Project Manager with EINP.

This first workshop will be open to a wide range of land-managers, subject matter experts and Indigenous communities within and beyond the biosphere’s boundaries. Subsequent workshops will focus on a specific theme, based on what past participants express a need for and interest in. The CoP formed through these efforts will encourage cooperation and knowledge sharing between people who are working on the same invasive plants or in the same areas across the biosphere.

“We are all working towards the same goal in the same region, so it makes sense that we connect, discuss and cooperate where we can,” adds Pinette.

In addition to benefiting those who own or manage land in the biosphere, as well as other users of the area, including wildlife, this initial workshop provides a platform to increase awareness of invasive plants, the problems they cause and solutions moving forward. Residents, Indigenous partners, landowners and experts alike are encouraged to participate in the kick-off workshop.

Stay tuned for updates on social media and do not miss your chance to register in early 2021.