Way back in Action 12, I talked about why pulling weeds is relevant to climate change. Not so much the generic weeds in your garden bed – I’m talking more about the aggressive invasive plants that thrive all over the world, and in our wet little corner of the world are species including English Ivy, Scotch Broom, English Holly, and their friends and relatives. Yesterday we completed our Earth Day service by pulling ivy and some other invasives at our local park.
As I have talked about before, with climate change comes predictions of increased precipitation and more severe storm events. For our local streams and shorelines to withstand what will likely be an increase in weather severity, we need intact forest systems with good root structures that are holding on to water and hillslopes; and not plants that smother all other groundcover and outcompete and even directly kill trees, as English Ivy is unfortunately all too capable of doing. And, of course, we also need intact forest systems with which our native wildlife has evolved in order to support native forest health.
These two pictures show the dramatic difference between the monoculture of ivy covering the forest floor on the left, and what was left after we cleared it on the right- pretty much nothing. Now we need to come back and probably do some planting here, so we don’t end up with a quick transition to soil erosion and/or re-invasion.
I can pretty much guarantee that no matter where you are in this country or for that matter, the world, you’ve got some invasive plants out there that are causing problems for your forests, meadows, plains or praries that need addressing. Hopefully you’ve got something you can work with akin to our awesome local Weed Warriors, a group of folks that are committed to working with individuals, agencies and organizations including our local land trust and park district to combat invasive plants. If all of us pull together and spend a few moments addressing these invasive plants, we can help give our forests and their residents, like the one below, a much healthier future.