Invasive ivy target of annual cleanup

NANAIMO – City workers have it in for English ivy during Invasive Plant Month in May.

The city has declared open season on English ivy in Nanaimo throughout May, which is Invasive Plant Month.

This is the second year the city has held Invasive Plant Month to raise awareness of invasive plants, their effects on local parks and what can be done about them.

The city considers invasive plants as those that can negatively impact local ecosystems.

On Nanaimo’s hit list are the well-established English ivy, Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry, plus new arrivals knotweed, daphne and giant hogweed, which is particularly dangerous to humans if touched.

All invasive plants compete with and suppress native plants and reduce the city’s biodiversity.

This year the city is focusing on removing English ivy. The plant climbs and often kills trees and can even cause structural damage to buildings if left unchecked.

An anti-English ivy weekend work party of more than 20 volunteers got a jump start on the month on April 26-27 when they tore down ivy in Colliery Dam Park.

“What we’re going to try and encourage people to do is remove ivy off the base of trees that are on their property or as part of a volunteer crew in our parks,” said Rob Lawrance, city environmental planner. “There is reason to that. They’re probably in their most invasive stage when they’re climbing because that’s when they develop seeds and birds will just carry them on in their droppings, but also because they cause damage to the tree itself.”

As English ivy spreads out over the forest floor it shades and smothers plants underneath it. In its adult stage, ivy climbs and wraps itself around trees and its weight can even lead to trees toppling in wind storms.

Lawrance said a number of trees in Bowen Park are at risk due to ivy infestation.

The city hosted public ivy removal and disposal demonstrations at Bowen Park in April, but for those who missed out there are plenty of upcoming activities people can take part in, including a Broombusters work party at Nanaimo Ice Centre on Saturday (May 10) and invasive plant removal at Pioneer Waterfront Plaza May 28.

An English ivy work party is set for May 31, noon to 3 p.m., at Bowen Park, where residents can also drop off invasive plants they have removed from their properties for disposal at the Wall Street entrance. For more information about invasive plants and upcoming activities, please visit www.nanaimo.ca/goto/invasives.

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