Nature Conservancy looking for volunteers to help control invasive species

An NCC conservationist working to remove phragmites from the Hawkridge Property near Lyndhurst, Ont., in 2019. Photo by Andrew Colton, NCC.

The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) will be doing some hands-on conservation work next week, and are looking for volunteers to “lend nature a helping hand.”

According to a release from the NCC, the upcoming Conservation Volunteers event takes place on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023, and will help control phragmites, Ontario’s worst invasive species.

According to the NCC, phragmites (or common reed) is a non-native, invasive reed from Eurasia, and is quickly spreading throughout North America. Found mostly in wetlands, this towering plant takes over moist areas, choking out all other life. It outcompetes native wetland plants, leaving frogs and turtles without vital habitat and blocking shoreline views and access. 

Graphic via Ontario’s Invading Species Awarness Program.

Phragmites negatively impact at least 25 per cent of species at risk in Ontario. By controlling it, we support these species by conserving their habitat, the NCC noted.  

Volunteers will join NCC staff to take part in the manual control and removal of phragmites, which will further prevent this invasive, non-native species from spreading. According to the conservancy, this will also allow native vegetation to flourish once again and provide critical habitat for many species of plants and animals.  

“At NCC, we believe that all people can play an important role in caring for nature. By working together to control invasive phragmites, we are contributing to healthier ecosystems here in the Frontenac Arch area and ensuring that the species that depend on them can flourish,” said Rob McRae, Program Director – Eastern Ontario, Nature Conservancy of Canada. “It’s a great way to participate in conservation and leave a lasting impact for nature right in your community.”

This Conservation Volunteers event will be held along the Opinicon Road in the Loughborough Wilderness located in South Frontenac, near Elbow Lake, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday. The NCC said that no prior experience is required, and training will be provided. To register or learn more, visit natureconservancy.ca/phragmites-event  

According to the release, this habitat restoration effort showcases how NCC is accelerating the pace of conservation in Canada. In the past two years alone, NCC has influenced the protection of more than one million hectares (almost twice the size of Prince Edward Island), coast to coast to coast. Over the next few years, the organization said it will double its impact by mobilizing Canadians and delivering permanent, large-scale conservation, as well as working with people to improve habitats through Conservation Volunteers events.  

“In the face of rapid biodiversity loss and climate change, nature is our ally. There is no solution to either without nature conservation,” the NCC said. “When nature thrives, we all thrive.”

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