The Biocontrol Development Program provides new biocontrol agents to invasive plant managers in British Columbia by enabling research into potential new biocontrol agents and developing received agents into management tools.
The B.C. Ministry of Forests and Range’s (MFR) Invasive Plant and Biocontrol Development Programs are involved in the control of problem invasive plants. The goal of the MFR’s invasive plant function is to reduce invasive plant populations to ecologically and economically acceptable levels and to prevent invasive plant encroachment into new areas.
The approach used to carry out this goal is Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which involves: prevention of invasive plant encroachment; hand pulling; seeding; clipping; herbicide spraying and biological control. These activities are carried out by various branches within MFR. A description of responsibilities and contact information is included in Contact us. This web site addresses the use of biological control for invasive plants.
Invasive plants, typically those not native to North America, are threatening to destroy our precious resources. These non-native plants (also commonly referred to as “weeds”) are both an ecological and an economic problem. They are extremely aggressive and can out-compete crops and native vegetation leading to dense, widespread areas of invasive plants. As a result, the diversity of our native plant communities is decreasing and our ecosystems are being damaged.
Invasive plant dispersal is carried out mainly by humans in the movement of whole plants, seeds, burs or root pieces as horticulture products or on transported goods, machinery and vehicles and also on footwear, clothing or pets. Thereafter, spread occurs by wind, water, livestock and wildlife. Soil erosion, over-grazing, off-roading and other forms of soil disturbance can further the spread of these invaders. As native vegetation is reduced, so is the amount of forage available for wildlife and livestock. Many of these invasive plants are not considered a food source, are toxic, or cause mechanical problems to animals and humans. Capable of producing thousands of seeds/plant, which may lie dormant for many years, they pose a very real threat to the continued existence of many of our native species and the biodiversity of our environment.
The effects of invasive plants on ecosystem functioning are intricately complex. For example these invasive plants exist near the bottom of the food chain, upsetting the ability of British Columbia's plants to provide food to subsequent levels above that have evolved with dependence on our native plant species. The direct effects of invasive plants out-competing native plants can be obvious. However, indirect impacts further up the food chain may not be initially recognized, but may be far more devastating. The full extent of damage is as yet unrealized.
There are several pieces of legislation to address invasive plants in British Columbia, including, but not limited to: the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA) administered by the Ministry of Forests and Range; the Integrated Pest Management Act (IPMA) administered by the Ministry of Environment; the Community Charters Act, administered by the Ministry of Community Services; and the Weed Act, administered by the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands. The Weed Act designates invasive plants as noxious weeds when addressed by this Act.
There are many sources of information and images on invasive plant
species and their management strategies/techniques, some of which can be
accessed with the links on this site. We encourage everyone to learn how to identify invasive plants and to participate in preventing their spread.