Non-profit receives new ammunition in the battle against Canada’s worst invasive species
The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) is getting help to control invasive phragmites in Norfolk County, thanks to an Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) grant.
On Friday, Local MPP Toby Barrett and OTF Grant Review Team member Helen Schultz were on hand to congratulate NCC and hear more about how the $90,000 OTF Capital grant will help with ongoing control and monitoring of phragmites along the wetlands and shorelines of Lake Erie with the purchase of a new boat.
“Phragmites is one of the largest threats facing Ontario by an invasive plant,” said Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett. “The Nature Conservancy of Canada has been a valuable partner in the fight against phragmites and has made a measurable difference through their efforts in the Long Point marshes.”
Phragmites is an invasive perennial grass that was transported from Eurasia and is now causing severe damage to coastal wetlands and beaches in North America. In 2005, Agriculture and Agrifood Canada identified it as the nation’s worst invasive plant species. Phragmites is highly competitive, prolific and challenging to control. It causes large-scale losses of habitat and biodiversity. It also presents a huge cost to local economies through its impacts on tourism, hunting, agriculture, fishing and property values.
The Long Point region is home to a variety of unique dune, savannah, woodland and wetland habitats, as well as many rare and endangered species.
As Canada’s largest land conservation organization, NCC has become a leader in combating invasive species on conservation lands. Phragmites took over the marshes along the shores of Lake Erie in Long Point, creating thousands of acres of dense stands that blocked light, water and access. But thanks to NCC’s multi-year program, this important area for wildlife and recreation has been bouncing back.
Now in its fourth year, NCC and partners have effectively controlled phragmites in over half of Long Point’s coastal wetlands, totaling over 1,133 hectares (2,800 acres). With the help of the Ontario Trillium Foundation funds, NCC will be able to continue monitoring the shorelines for phragmites — catching remnant populations before they spiral out of control. Early detection and constant monitoring and control are key to successfully eradicating this devastating invader and returning the marshes and shorelines to havens for turtles, birds and waterfowl once more.
"This grant will help us continue our successful phragmites control program in the Long Point area,” says Kristen Bernard, NCC’s program director – southwestern Ontario. “The return of native wetland plants and wildlife shows that our hard work is starting to pay off."
Aside from controlling phragmites, the new boat will help NCC conduct other stewardship work in the area, including species surveys, monitoring and control of other invasive species, property surveillance and maintenance, and providing support for research activities and partner programs.
The Nature Conservancy of Canada is the nation's leading not-for-profit, private land conservation organization, working to protect our most important natural areas and the species they sustain. Since 1962, NCC and its partners have helped to protect more than 1.1 million hectares (2.8 million acres), coast to coast, with more than 200,000 acres (more than 82,000 hectares) in Ontario. To learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. OTF awarded $108 million to 629 last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.
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