NCC invites volunteers to ‘say Boo to Buckthorn’ at conservation event

Buckthorn is an invasive species in eastern Ontario. Photo via the NCC.

This Friday, the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) invites the public to get involved in caring for nature by attending an upcoming Conservation
Volunteers event, “Boo to buckthorn,” to help control invasive buckthorn.

According to a release from the NCC, invasive buckthorn has been giving local ecosystems “toil and trouble,” so everyone is asked to come help slay this “seriously scary and sinister shrub!” Halloween is just around the corner, so costumes are welcome and encouraged, the NCC said.

Volunteers will join NCC staff at the Millburn Creek nature reserve near Battersea to take part in the manual control and removal of buckthorn, which will prevent this invasive, non-native species from spreading further. According to the release, this will also allow native vegetation to flourish once again and provide critical habitat for many species of plants and animals.

“Invasive buckthorn is a big problem in natural areas across southern Ontario. It’s important that we continue to work together to reduce the prevalence of buckthorn and other invasive species in our natural areas and across our communities so we can ensure that native species can thrive,” explained Jennifer Gagne, Coordinator of Conservation Biology with Nature Conservancy of Canada. “We look forward to celebrating this spooky season by removing buckthorn at Millburn Creek!”

The NCC explained that European buckthorn grows throughout southern Ontario in a variety of habitats and is often found in woodlands and open fields. It forms dense thickets that crowd out other plants and can alter nitrogen levels in the soil, which prevents native species from growing. The plant produces many seeds, allowing the species to spread and grow quickly, and the dense shade created by stands of European buckthorn blocks light to the forest floor and reduces local biodiversity.

This Conservation Volunteers event will be held at NCC’s Millburn Creek nature reserve on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. No prior experience is required, and training will be provided. To register or learn more, visit

Join the NCC and say Boo to Buckthorn on Friday, Oct. 27, 2023. Photo by Jennifer Gagne.

According to the NCC, this habitat restoration effort showcases how the organization 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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