Take back the woods

Darrell Cole
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Conservancy fighting invasive plant

Volunteer Dave Young helps remove a Glossy Buckthorn plant during Nature Conservancy of Canada's conservation volunteers event at Pugwash River Estuary in 2011.

PUGWASH – It’s an invader from across the ‘pond.’

Glossy Buckthorn has taken root on our shores, and it’s out-competing native species.

“(It) can reduce the biodiversity of an area and change habitat,” said Marla Bojarski, Nova Scotia’s stewardship coordinator for Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Bojarski is looking for volunteers to help tackle the problem. June 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the conservancy will be removing glossy buckthorn from a 60-acre property they own on the Pugwash estuary.

“We’re dedicated to removing this invasive species,” said Bojarski. “It’s a battle.”

This will be the second year they’ve worked on the same site. Last year, 11 people pulled more than 3,000 saplings, seedlings and trees from the property. Small plants can be pulled by hand, while others need to be cut with clippers or saws.

“It is native to Europe,” she said of the target plant species.

It’s spread by birds, which pass the seeds undigested. A seed from this hearty flora can survive up to seven years in soil, which means that an entire bank of seeds can lie waiting in the ground for the right conditions to grow. Not that glossy buckthorn is overly picky.

“(It) can persist in (shaded) areas really well,” said the coordinator, but thrives in sunlight.

The plant’s berries also have a longer season than native species, which means they’re a food source for seed-dropping birds when other berries are gone.

Three thousand or more plants may have been removed just last year, but there’s still work to be done.

“You can’t just pull it one year and think that you’re done,” she said. It requires what she calls continuous management.

Would-be volunteers should log on to www.conservationvolunteers.ca. The co-ordinator promised sandwiches and treats – and good old-fashioned work.

“We definitely ask people to come in and get their hands dirty,” she said.

It’s a good way to vent frustration with invasive species, said Bojarski.

“Get in there and pull.”


Geographic location: PUGWASH, Nova Scotia, Canada Europe

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Recent comments

  • Alicia
    May 31, 2012 - 10:04

    Great job! It is nice to see folks pulling together to do something beneficial for our natural spaces!