Beating down the Glossy Buckthorn in Pugwash

Nature Conservancy hosting cleanup on Saturday

Darrell Cole
Published on June 5, 2014
A volunteer removes Glossy Buckthorn from a piece of land along the Pugwash Estuary during last year’s Pugwash Buckthorn Beatdown. The fourth annual cleanup is set for Saturday.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada is hosting its fourth Buckthorn Beatdown on Saturday in Pugwash.

UPDATE: With Saturday's forecast of rain and wind, the Nature Conservancy of Canada has moved the event to Sunday at 9 a.m. People can volunteer by going to or calling 1-877-231-4400 or going to where the Trans-Canada Trail instersects the Crowley Road near Pugwash.

PUGWASH – For the fourth consecutive year, the Nature Conservancy of Canada is holding a Buckthorn Beatdown.

Volunteers will converge on the Pugwash River estuary early Saturday to remove the invasive Glossy Buckthorn from land it has protected.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada has protected nearly 405 hectares around what it considers a significant waterfowl habitat.

“The Glossy Buckthorn is a non-native plant that is invasive in that it takes over from the native plants,” NCC’s Nova Scotia stewardship co-ordinator Doug van Hemessen said.

van Hemessen said each year the group broadens the area it’s working on. He said it’s a big job so the more volunteers the better.

He said there is a lot of the Glossy Buckthorn in the Pugwash area. While it’s scattered in some areas, he said it’s very dominant in others.

“It’s some areas it just takes over,” he said.

van Hemessen said the glossy buckthorn was likely introduced more than a century ago from Europe. He said the plant has taken over because there’s nothing out there that can compete with it.

Removing it involves brute force, he said, including pulling it and cutting it. The smaller plants are removed by hand but the larger ones are cut with a handsaw.

“They’re not really big trees so they’re pretty manageable by using brute force and pulling them out. The important thing is making sure the roots don’t touch the ground again because they’ll re-root really easily. We’re very careful in how we stack them,” he said.

Last year, approximately 15 volunteers removed 5,000 stems.

The Buckthorn Beatdown is also being supported by the Friends of the Pugwash Estuary.

To volunteer, van Hemessen suggested people go to to register. The NSCC provides lunch, snacks and water so it wants to make sure it has enough for everyone.

The group is meeting at 9 a.m. on Saturay at the Trans-Canada Trail crosses the Crowley Road.

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