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Strength in Numbers

To deal with invasive plants, we need to organize. Around the world, states are passing laws, conservation groups waging removal campaigns, scientists studying how to reverse destruction which grows ever more serious.

The World Conservation Union and Fujifilm are running a contest, “Zoom on the Invasives,” for photos of invasive species. First prize is $1000; the top ten will be shown at the World Conservation Congress on November 17- 25 in Bangkok, to raise awareness about biodiversity loss and species extinction. See <>.

In order to identify the worst problems here, the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Group convenes experts from federal and state agencies, land trusts, nurseries and landscape associations, conservation organizations, scientific and academic institutions. Their first evaluations were published in 2003; a second round will be out in early 2005. See <> or to request a free paper copy, contact Cynthia Boettner, Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge, 52 Avenue A, Turners Falls, MA 01370.

Other similar groups around New England are working on this; a central database gathers information on over 120 identified thugs: The Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE), at <> — a joint project of the US Department of Agriculture, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, The New England Wild Flower Society, and the University of Connecticut. For each plant, exhaustive details include photos and descriptions, identification of reproductive/dispersal mechanisms, distribution maps, and links to sources of more information, including management. In addition IPANE posts a calendar of events and lists volunteer opportunities.

The Nashua River Watershed Association is offering “Don’t Mess with my Web!!!” a science workshop on invasives for teachers of grades 2-8, from 9 am to 3:30 pm On Thursday, October 21. Registration is $60; call (978) 448-0299 before October 15.

On Sunday, October 17, from 10 am - 2 pm, Friends of Willard Brook invite all to walk the Nashua River Rail Trail with naturalist Peter Alden — founder of Massachusetts Biodiversity Days — conducting a leisurely inventory of invasive species along this three and a half mile, wheelchair-accessible stretch. Bring binoculars and a picnic lunch. For more information, call Emily Norton at (978) 597-3553.

In early 2005, Alden will publish his new Field Guide to Invasive Plants of New England. On the 17th, he will suggest ways we can organize to meet the threat of burgeoning populations of invasive plants.

© Copyright 2004 Catherine Holmes Clark

Published in the six Nashoba Publications papers on Friday, 8 October 2004

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