What is an Invasive Species?
An invasive species is any organism (plant, animal, fungus or bacterium) that is not native to a particular area and that has negative impacts on our health, environment or economy. Not all introduced species are considered invasive.
Why are Invasive Species a Threat?
Invasive plants and animals are the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss.
Invasive species are moving across British Columbia (and Canada) rapidly and at considerable cost to our environment, economy and society. Invasive species can alter habitats and disrupt essential ecosystem functions. Some invasives can also be toxic to animals and humans.
Invasive plants specifically displace native vegetation by competing with native plants for water, nutrients and space. They can be introduced in a number of different ways, including improper disposal of garden plants, unintentional dispersal, or intentionally planting them. Invasive species can grown and spread quickly, and it can often be very difficult to control or eradicate once a species begins to spread.
Once established, invasive plants can:
- reduce soil productivity
- impact water quality and quantity
- degrade range resources and wildlife habitat
- threaten biodiversity
- alter natural fire regimes
- introduce diseases
In economic terms, according to Environment Canada, the annual cumulative lost revenue caused by just 16 invasive species is estimated between $13 to $15 billion. An estimated $7.5 billion in revenue is lost annually in the forestry and agriculture sectors alone due to invasive species. The Invasive Species Council of British Columbia has produced many technical reports concerning invasive species, and the corresponding environmental, social, and economic costs.
SLRD Regulations to Control Invasive Species
In recognition of this situation, in the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) passed two bylaws designed to help manage and minimize the threat of invasive species across the region.
The first, SLRD Invasive Species Management and Control Service Establishment Bylaw No. 1541-2017, established a service area to enable the SLRD to contribute annual funding to external organizations (the Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society and the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council) which are leading efforts to reduce the negative impacts of invasive species in the region. Bylaw No. 1541-2017 was adopted by the SLRD Board on December 13, 2017.
The second, SLRD Noxious Weeds Control Bylaw No. 1542-2018 establishes a regulation requiring people to keep their properties clear and free of noxious weeds. Bylaw No. 1542-2018 was adopted by the Board on February 28, 2018.
The total sum annually requisitioned for the purpose of managing and controlling invasive species throughout the SLRD is up to $75,000. However, the SLRD Board has resolved to requisition a maximum of $50,000 in the first year of service implementation (i.e. 2018), with the requisition amount increasing to $75,000 in the second and subsequent years of the service's implementation (i.e. 2019 and beyond). The cost of the service is borne by the taxable properties within the service area, which is the SLRD's four electoral areas (A, B, C, and D) and its four member municipalities (District of Lillooet, Village of Pemberton, Resort Municipality of Whistler, and District of Squamish).
Learn more about the process the SLRD underwent to develop these bylaws on the Project Page.
Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society (LRISS)
The Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society is a not-for-profit organization working to reduce and minimize the negative impacts of invasive species in the northern part of the SLRD. LRISS has an open and free membership that includes the general public, St’át’imc First Nations, local, regional and provincial governments, and both public and private land managers.
Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC)
The Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council is a not-for-profit society that works in cooperation with organizations, governments, and industry in the southern part of the SLRD to minimize the negative impacts caused by invasive species.
If you spot an invasive species in Electoral Area C or D or in Pemberton, Whistler or Squamish, you can report an invasive species sighting to the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council directly.
It is important to recognize and report sightings of invasive species in order to catch them before they overwhelm entire ecosystems. If you see an invasive plant, please use the Province of BC’s Report-A-Weed system to report the sighting. Once completed, your report will be compared to known locations of the invasive plant species in the Invasive Alien Plant Program, and then it will be sent directly to an Invasive Plant Specialist in your area.