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United front needed to fight invasive species: group 0

By Jane Deacon

The only strategy in the fight against invasive species like giant hogweed is a united front across Metro Vancouver, says a local organization. QMI Agency

The only strategy in the fight against invasive species like giant hogweed is a united front across Metro Vancouver, says a local organization. QMI Agency

A lack of co-ordination is leaving Metro Vancouver at serious risk of invasive species — a problem the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver hopes to fight with a new region-wide strategy.

Currently, every Metro Vancouver municipality has its own invasive species strategy, with varying commitment and success levels. But because those species know no boundaries, that lack of co-ordination leaves everybody vulnerable, said Jennifer Grenz, ISCMV development and projects manager.

As she explained, insects and plants that pose serious public-health risks and aquatic species that put shipping industries in danger are close concerns.

“There are species in other states and provinces close by that, if they came here, could cost us millions of dollars in damage and loss of fish habitat,” said Grenz.

ISCMV contends that a united front in the battle against those threats is the solution. For the last four years, the organization has worked in partnership with Metro Vancouver and other stakeholders to develop a region-wide strategy.

A final draft was presented earlier this summer, which Metro Vancouver staff are currently considering and will review at a committee meeting next week. ISCMV is hoping the report will be formally approved and rolled out this fall, with Metro Vancouver’s support to get all municipalities on board.

“It’s not going to be successful if it’s not formally adopted by all of the local municipalities,” said Grenz. “We can’t have a patchwork of jurisdictions that are committed to it.”

A recent effort to combat giant hogweed, which can cause blisters and blindness, has shown the success of a co-ordinated strategy, she added, but the key is an equal commitment.

“We are seeing a complete reduction and eradication in some jurisdictions of that species, so if not everyone’s committed to that, that’s too bad,” she said. “The whole region will lose out on actually being able to eradicate a species.” 

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