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Horticulture forum creates consensus

50 participants discuss horticulture industry's role in curbing invasive species



Some of the species of plants targeted by the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSIC) got here via gravel trucks, or can spread from one place to another by shoe and tire treads, waterways, wind and the activities of other species. And some of those invasive species were planted there for aesthetic reasons.

Last week the SSISC hosted a forum called "Stop the Spread: Horticulture solutions to invasive species" and invited landscapers and horticulturalists from the region to take part. The forum looked at species that the B.C. Landscape and Nursery Association is proposing a volunteer ban on - butterfly bush, periwinkle, holly, ivy, hogweed, Himalayan blackberry, knotweeds, policeman's helmet, purple loosestrife, Scotch Broom, daphne, yellow flag iris and lamium.

As well, the SSISC proposed adding other species to the voluntary ban, including English hawthorn and rowan, that carry a risk of hybridization with native species. By comparison, most species on the voluntary ban list are there because they spread, squeeze out native species and alter local ecosystems.

During the forum some 50 participants discussed barriers and opportunities for invasives, and the concept of creating a set of best management practices emerged.

Some of the barriers identified included the lack of education around invasive species issues, the lack of a proper disposal site for landscapers and homeowners, the limited funds to implement best practices, and the absence of laws and regulations concerning invasive species.

Some of the opportunities were similar, and included education campaigns, creating safe disposal sites, ending the sale and purchase of invasives, introducing new regulations, creating a certification program for horticulturists and providing a list of safe alternatives to varieties of invasive plants.

"I think safe disposal sites are a must and discussions with the local municipalities are in the works," said Kristina Swerhun, SSISC coordinator. "Regarding regulation, the (Resort Municipality of Whistler) has already prepared a bylaw around the regulation of invasive species, which is encouraging."

Bob Brett, the director of the Whistler Biodiversity Project - which is always on the lookout for all types of invasive species - said the forum was overdue.

"The historical perspective is that the forum has been a long time coming," he said. "But now that there's a critical mass of concerned, knowledgeable folks, together we are going to make a difference."

A complete summary of the meeting, as well as other information on invasive species, can be found at 604-935-7665.