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Invasive plant prevention and management

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Invasive plants are aggressively spreading, non-native species that can have dramatic and damaging impacts on our local environment.

These species are more than just a problem in agricultural lands. Infestations of these pushy plants choke out Calgary's natural vegetation, change the structure of park spaces, hamper our enjoyment of these areas and cause damage to bird and wildlife habitat. Some invaders like salt cedar can even threaten a community's precious groundwater resources.

Purple Loosestrife along the Bow River is down 99% thanks to cooperation between City of Calgary and neighbouring municipalities.
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How invasive plants get in and around Calgary

  • Plant parts that hitch-hike on recreation vehicles, heavy equipment, clothing and pet fur.
  • Seeds move around in soil, gravel, straw and mulch.
  • Wind and water borne seeds.
  • Creeping roots.
  • Sharing attractive invasive plants amongst neighbours, family and friends.

As part of the ongoing commitment to managing pests using an integrated suite of effective and environmentally responsible techniques, The City of Calgary is implementing an Invasive Plant Strategic Management Plan. Some primary components of this science-based plan are:

  • Early Detection / Rapid Response (EDRR): Invasive plants new to the Calgary area are sought out and destroyed. By preventing widespread establishment of invasive species, our city ecosystems and landscapes are preserved.
  • Applied Research and Development: New and improved strategies for invasive plant suppression and management are evaluated.
  • Inventory and Monitoring: GIS maps are generated by Parks staff to identify the location and extent of weed infestations to help in strategic management of invasive plant threats.
  • Prevention: Landscape redesign and reclamation activities are undertaken with the aim of preventing the establishment of weedy invaders.
  • Community Outreach: Calgarians are empowered to prevent and manage invasive plants in their own backyard through various public awareness initiatives (e.g. YardSmart)
  • Integrated Weed Management: A combination of invasive plant control methods are employed to eliminate priority weed threats to Calgary's environment, economy and well-being. These tools include biological, mechanical, chemical and cultural controls.

What you can do to fight the invasion

Calgarians are passionate about their city and are committed to ensuring it can be enjoyed now and well into the future. All of us have a shared responsibility to safeguard our lands and park spaces from the havoc wreaked by invasive species. You can help preserve Calgary's rich natural capital by adopting a few simple actions:

  • Check your clothing, bike, backpack and pet's fur for plant seeds, burrs and other parts after spending time in a park. Dispose of all plants parts in a garbage bin.
  • Avoid travelling through weed-infested areas.
  • Become a weed warrior. Lend a hand in the battle against marauding invasive plants. The City of Calgary and other local stewardship groups offer unique and educational volunteer opportunities.
  • Inspect your yard and garden for invasive plants. If you find an invasive plant, remove it and place it in the garbage. Do not place it in a composter, this just contributes to the seed spreading.
  • Do not purchase or plant invasive plants.

If you are a homeowner, gardener or landscaper, you have the power to fight invaders by nipping infestations in the bud. You can choose not to plant an invasive species, however attractive it may be. There are numerous attractive alternative species that can be planted. Your plant choices speak for you, saying that you care about what threatens to invade your backyard, local park and city. Help prevent Calgary's urban landscape and parks from being overrun by environmentally-damaging invaders by choosing garden plants that are:

You can ensure your yard is free of invasive plants by