Education Campaign to Combat Invasive Species

City Launches Education Campaign to Combat Invasive Species
Posted on 03/29/2019
The City of Charlottetown has launched an educational campaign to combat invasive species and encourage the public to focus on native plants when gardening.

City staff harvested native wildflower seeds and created seed packages for the public that include information about invasives and the importance of pollinators. As part of this project, the City engaged Enactus UPEI students to create seed coins, which are small discs of recycled paper with native wildflower seeds pressed into it. The seed coin, which is attached to educational material, can be easily removed and planted in a thin layer of soil to grow flowers that are attractive to pollinators such as bees, wasps, birds and butterflies.

“Plants that are not native to Prince Edward Island may be invasive and can establish and reproduce quickly. They have no natural predators to keep them in check so invasive plants can take over an ecosystem and are very difficult to manage or eradicate,” said Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown. “Through this project, we hope to educate the public about the importance of planting native species, but also encourage people to consider plants that are pollinator friendly and beneficial to our ecosystem.”

Enactus UPEI is one of 73 university teams in Canada that develop projects, events and initiatives focused on entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and the environment. They recently received national recognition for their Bury and Bloom project, a greeting card business that uses recycled paper and seeds. The greeting cards can be planted after use.

“We are pleased to be able to work with such a stellar entrepreneurial group that is focused on the environment,” said Councillor Terry MacLeod, Chair of the City’s Environment and Sustainability Committee. “Their work on the Bury & Bloom project is fantastic and we thank them for agreeing to bring their innovative idea to our project to further the collective goal of protecting our environment and bettering our community.”

Some wildflower packages available to the public can contain invasive seeds. Once they establish, invasive plants often reproduce quickly and displace native plants, becoming the dominant species in an ecosystem and competing for space, light, water, nutrients, and other resources needed for growth. This can have harmful effects on the environment. Invasive plants reduce biodiversity, have negative social impacts on human health, and can interfere with recreational activities as well as adversely affect the economy.

Native pollinators and pollinator plants have evolved together so they thrive together. Plants rely on the pollinators to pollinate them, and the pollinators rely on the plants for their food. The City’s seed coin contains joe pye-weed and swamp milkweed. Along with those native plants, the City’s wildflower seed package also contains blue eyed grass and pearly everlasting – all plants that are native to PEI and attractive to pollinators. Milkweeds are key to the survival of the monarch butterfly as the monarch caterpillar feeds only on milkweed plants.

There have been significant declines in pollinator populations that can be attributed a number factors, such as habitat loss, the use of pesticides, pressure from invasive species, and changes in the environment due to climate change. The loss of pollinators translates into less food production, affecting the human population and natural ecosystems.

“Our team at Enactus UPEI is grateful for the support we have received from the City of Charlottetown regarding our new project, Bury & Bloom. The educational and environmental interests of Bury & Bloom directly coincide with that of the City of Charlottetown. Each small change can create a big difference!” said Ashley Doucette of Enactus UPEI. “We look forward to continuing our work with the City of Charlottetown and other community partners.”

The City plans to use the wildflower seed packages and seed coins at events, such as the Annual General Meeting of the Invasive Species Council today (Friday, March 29) and for educational activities, such as the nature education program at Victoria Park.

A limited number of the wildflower seed packages are available at the main reception desk at City Hall, 199 Queen Street.

For information on Enactus UPEI, visit: https://www.upei.ca/business/enactus