Problem & Known Solutions

Japanese knotweed infestation

A Japanese knotweed infestation inhibits sight distance along an Adirondack road corridor

Invasive species are plants, animals, and other organisms either accidentally or intentionally introduced from other places that cause harm to the environment, economy, or human health. In recent years, the rate and risk of invasive species introductions has been exacerbated due to increased movement of people and materials and increased environmental alteration and degradation.

Once established, invasive species can negatively impact agriculture, industry, recreation, forestry, fisheries, human health, the environment, and the economy. Due to the lack of natural predators in the environment that they are introduced into and their high reproductive ability, invasives can quickly become widespread and out-compete native species.

Invasive species change not only the way natural systems look but also the way they function. Infestations can disrupt forest succession, species composition, water absorption and circulation, nutrient cycling, or even create toxic growing conditions for other plants and animals. They degrade habitat, which can diminish the number and variety of plants, fish and wildlife living in a certain area. They can impact agriculture and forestry by reducing crop and forest productivity. Invasive species can also pose risks to human health and safety by, among other things, reducing sight distances along transportation corridors and by spreading diseases.

There are four important overarching strategies that must be taken in combination with each other to develop effective solutions to these threats:

Spread Prevention

Each of us – from boaters to anglers, campers to climbers, and homeowners to business owners – can help prevent the spread of invasive species. When it comes to preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species, it is important to clean, drain, and dry your boating/fishing equipment between uses. In order to prevent the spread of land-based invaders, it is important to garden and landscape with non-invasive plants, use clean fill for construction projects and to use locally sourced firewood.

Cleaning Outboard Motor

Surveillance & Proper Identification

Invasive species are transported and introduced through a variety of pathways including the ornamental plant and pet trade, transportation corridors, wooden packing material and firewood, and ballast water. Extensive surveillance of key points of entry is essential to detect infestations early when the likelihood of successful eradication is highest. If you think you have found an invasive species, be sure to have a specimen properly identified by an expert before taking on any further action. Some native species can look very similar to invasives.

Aquatic Volunteer Sandy Baehre monitors an Adirondack lake for aquatic invasive plants. Photo by Frank Baehre

Early Detection, Rapid Response & Management

Invasive species populations become more difficult to control the longer they are allowed to proliferate on the landscape; making early detection and rapid response to new, small infestations critical to any successful management strategy. Research has shown that management efforts taken on infestations less than 2.5 acres in size have the highest likelihood for successful eradication. Management techniques differ for each species, but by taking into consideration the biology of the species of concern, infestation size, and local site conditions you can prevent well-intentioned control methods from doing more harm than good. Also, be informed of best management practices and permits needed before beginning any management action.

Photo by Paul Rischmiller

Monitoring & Restoration

Our work is not complete after an invasive species has been successfully removed. It is our obligation to ensure that the once invaded site is able to recover sufficiently to a non-invasive plant and animal community. This requires extensive, long-term monitoring of the site and in some cases active restoration efforts. Monitoring also provides insight into the effectiveness of management efforts allowing for the adaptation and improvement of management techniques over time.

Monitoring

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Learn more about the invasive species that are, or have the potential to become, harmful to the health of  our lands and waterways by learning about APIPP’s  Species of Concern in the Adirondacks.