Over the past four hundred years, literally hundreds, if not thousands, of invasive plant species have been introduced into New Jersey. These natural invaders may start as a nuisance, but can quickly and aggressively spread, taking over a habitat. These invaders can be found on farmland, in forests and gardens, as well as in the marshlands and bays, disrupting their fragile ecosystems.
Forests in New Jersey have been seriously impacted by Japanese Barberry, Multiflora Rose and Japanese Stiltgrass. As many as one hundred additional species are already emerging. English Ivy and Japanese Honeysuckle crowd out native species, which birds and wildlife rely on for food and cover. Significant ecological damage can occur if emerging species are not controlled and/or eradicated.
What is being done?
To fight these invasive species, the New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team (NJISST) was formed. More than seventy public and private organizations make up this team. All levels of government, from municipal to federal, are represented, along with forestry consultants and conservation groups.
What can I do?
The individual citizen can help by purchasing firewood locally; cleaning hiking boots, waders, boats and trailers; use “weed-free” forage, firewood, soil, mulch and hay.
Pets can carry these invaders, as do some fruits and vegetables. Cleaning and washing when returning from camping, or a trip which included a visit to a fresh produce market, can help reduce the introduction of invasive weeds, aquatics, etc.
Also, when returning from international travel, be sure to claim any plants to customs officials.
Keeping our state looking naturally beautiful requires a team effort, with private groups and organizations, government agencies and private citizens working together in this continuing endeavor.
This blog was brought to you by Horizon Landscape Company.