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Invasive plant management for habitat restoration

Invasive plants pose a great threat to our native species and wildlife habitats.

Several tools are used to create, restore, and maintain a variety of open habitat types including grassland, shrubland, and young forests on public Wildlife Lands across Massachusetts to meet habitat goals. Tools include: wood product harvest, mowing and mulching, invasive plant management, and prescribed fire.

Invasive plant management

Invasive exotic plants are those that have been purposefully or unintentionally introduced into an area where they are not native. There are approximately 900 introduced plant species in Massachusetts. Most are benign and enjoyed as landscape and garden plants. Others however, spread rapidly, become difficult to control or eradicate, and degrade our natural plant communities by outcompeting native species for resources. In fact, invasive exotics have been implicated in contributing to the decline of 42% of those species listed as threatened or endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Habitat Program works to control invasive exotic plants on all project sites. In most cases, herbicides are used since they provide the most effective means of controlling invasive plants. Other, non-chemical techniques like hand pulling seedlings work in some instances. However, when root systems become well developed, techniques like pulling become less effective and can even contribute to a more severe invasion because mature root systems are difficult to pull out entirely, and root segments left in the soil often re-sprout vigorously. Additionally, the soil disturbance created after pulling out a plant creates a perfect bed for seeds of invasive exotic plants to germinate.

Herbicide applications are done by individuals (either contractors or MassWildlife staff) who are licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resource’s Pesticide Bureau. All applicable federal, state, and local regulations are followed during applications, including the Wetlands Protection Act.

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