of Invasive Plants
of invasive plants can be as easy as pulling a few weeds or can be a complex
and expensive, multi-year project. The amount of work will depend on the
extent of the invasive plant population, the traits of the target species,
and the management goals. In general, preventing new infestations from
becoming established and controlling small “satellite populations”
are the highest priority. Complete eradication of a species from a site
is rarely possible; control efforts that remove a large percentage of
the invasive plants, free up growing space for native species, and reduce
the requirement for follow-up control work are realistic goals. Long-term
monitoring and follow-up control efforts will be required in almost all
cases. Clarifying the management goal for the site can help set priorities.
The goal of "enabling forest regeneration" could result in a
much different plan for controlling invasives than if the goal is to "maintain
and enhance viewpoints."
Due to the ecological and economic limitations on certain
projects, prioritizing sites is very important. Highest priority efforts
are the prevention of new invasions in un-invaded areas and removing invasive
plants that are just becoming established in intact native plant communities.
Native plant communities with “satellite” invasive plant populations
can be protected with a low investment in labor and materials. Other high
priorities are sites with rare plants or where ecosystem disturbances,
such as lot clearing or road work, are planned. After the satellite populations
are controlled, areas with higher numbers of invasive species should be
targeted, especially sites with seed producing, invasive plants. Large
sites that are completely dominated by invasive plants are often the last
to be controlled. These sites should be expected to require higher investments
for control and replanting of native species, and in some cases are not
worth the effort or expense.
Invasive plant control is an ongoing, multiyear effort
that requires careful planning for the initial control work, follow-up,
and restoration of native species. Sites will require different levels
of treatment ranging from minor hand-pulling of invasive plants to complete
ecosystem restoration. Determine what the goal(s) of a project are. Is
the goal to protect established, native plants around a construction site?
Protect rare species? Stop an invasive population from spreading or fruiting?
Restore a functioning native plant community?
Resources and Ecological Limitations
It is very important to asses whether the project goals
are realistic given the ecological characteristics of the site and the
resources that are available for control. The feasibility of a project
will be determined by ecological factors, such as the difficulty of controlling
a particular species, and the availability of funding and labor. It is
important to predict the economic and/or volunteer resources that will
be available for the initial control project, for planting native species,
and for ongoing maintenance. Also, some sites, such as wetlands, may have
restrictions on the type of work that can be performed or require additional
permits. All of these factors should be assessed before a project is undertaken.
Will Do the Work?
Volunteers, landowners or professionals? Given the scope of their
jurisdiction, Conservation Commissions may oversee invasive plant control
projects that are conducted by people with a range of skills and vested
interests, such as landscape contractors, landowners, volunteers, and
professional vegetation control specialists. The Commissioners need to
be aware of the skills of the workers and their interest in doing a thorough
job. Some contractors and landowners may be knowledgeable, and concerned
about native and invasive plants while others may lack the proper knowledge
and are only interested in meeting the minimal requirements outlined in
the permit. Requiring a management plan in the permitting process will
help the Commission judge the knowledge and commitment of the applicant
and provide a guide by which to measure progress. For more information
on management plans please click here (link to Conservation Land Management
Chemical herbicides are a common method of controlling invasive
plants. Herbicide use is carefully regulated by the state of Massachusetts
and by Federal laws. In general, landowners can apply unrestricted herbicides
on their own property outside of the wetland buffer zone; permits may
be required within the buffer zone. A pesticide applicator’s license
is required to apply restricted pesticides, or to apply any pesticide
on land owned by another. For more information on pesticide categories
and the laws governing their use of pesticides in Massachusetts please
see more about Pesticide Licensing.
of Control Methods
Conservation commissions may oversee different types of invasive
plant control projects on a range of sites. While Commissioners are not
expected to become experts on control, they will need to be familiar with
the common methods. This section provides Commissioners with a general
overview of control methods and when they might be appropriate.