What are invasive species?

Invasive species are plants, animals and microbes that are not native to a region and that tend to out-compete native species for available resources. They often form dense populations and dominate ecosystems. After habitat loss, invasive species are considered to be the second greatest threat to global biological diversity and humans cause most spread of invasive species.

People transport invasive species to environments that were previously unavailable to them, due to geographical boundaries. This may occur deliberately, for example when ornamental plants are imported for gardens, or accidentally, such as when trans-oceanic ships discharge ballast water containing shellfish larvae into a receiving port. Although only a small percentage of species that are introduced into new areas are able to survive, those that do can cause serious problems.

What are some high priority invasive species in the capital region?

Priority invasive species are those that pose the greatest threats or impacts—and those species new to a region or that haven't spread too far to control or eradicate.

Prevention and early detection/rapid response are two of the most important actions to successfully manage invasive species and their impacts.

For more information on some of the priority invasive species in the capital region, please read:

Why are invasive species a threat?

Invasive species spread and can cause significant impacts including environmental, economic, and human and livestock health impacts. Due to location and climate, the capital region has one of the greatest likelihoods of new high risk invasive introductions in BC, and potentially the highest diversity of invasive species in the province. Left unmanaged, invasive species spread and increase in density, requiring more resources to control and causing greater impacts.  Examples of impacts include:

  • watershed and water quality health
  • public health and safety
  • damage to roads, buildings and other infrastructure
  • damage to ecosystems and reduced biodiversity
  • impacts to industries including agriculture

What effect do invasive species have on people?

Some invasive species can cause burns and blindness in humans, or ailments in livestock. Their impact on ecosystems influences our lives in many ways. The economic costs due to damages and control of the invasions are significant. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has estimated the cost of invasive species to agriculture and forestry industries in Canada at $7.5 billion annually.  

What effect do invasive species have on ecosystems?

Normally, plants, animals and microorganisms evolve together in a delicate balance, where one species provides opportunities for, and exerts controls over other species. Grazing, disease, forest fires and predation are disturbances that help keep populations of species in check. In contrast, new species arrive in an environment that often has vastly different conditions from their native habitat. Natural constraints such as predators or climate limitations may not be present and this allows invasive species to "take over" an area and spread.

When invasive species alter an ecosystem, many of the benefits that people derive from those areas are lost.  Invasive species impacts can include:

  • decreased water purification and storage (increased droughts and floods)
  • decreased pollination of crops & pest control
  • decreased soil generation and increased erosion
  • decreased stability and structure of the foreshore and stream edges
  • damaging changes in chemical composition and pH of soil
  • decline of species that rely on native plants or animals that have been displaced by invasives, or species that are preyed upon by invasive animals
  • alteration of fire regimes

How do I report priority invasive species?

Our focus is on high priority invasive species, those species that we hope we can work together to prevent or eradicate from our region.

For priority invasive species, use the following methods to report:

  • Report-a-Weed by calling 1-888-WEEDSBC
  • Report-a-Weed using the province's mobile app for iPhone and Android platforms
  • Report-a-Weed online via the BC government's website

For some high priority invasive species in the capital region, regionally coordinated management programs are in place. Contact us or your local government for details.

Helpful information to report:

  • Local government jurisdiction
  • Exact location (use street address and GPS coordinates if possible)
  • Name of property owner
  • Contact phone number and email
  • Brief description of the site (location on property, size of patch,  number of stems)
  • How long the plant has been in this site
  • Photos 

For established species on public land:

  • Please keep in mind that established invasive species may be managed by some local jurisdictions, however capacities and budgets vary for this work on public land. 
  • Contact your local municipality to find ways to support the management of invasive species on public land. Some local jurisdictions have volunteer invasive species removal programs. 
  • We encourage private landowners to manage invasive species on their land as is possible. Local governments may be able to assist with information.

If you have invasive species on your property, you can work to control them:

  • The methods available for removing invasive species usually involve one or more of the following general techniques: careful cutting or digging, sheet mulching or smothering, and replacement with native species.
  • Most removal methods require a long-term commitment to removing the plant and repeat efforts. 
  • The first step is knowing which species you are dealing with. \
  • Depending on the species, there are different ways to control and dispose of these species. You can contact us, or your local government for guidance. 

CAUTION: Some species can cause skins burns, irritation and/or blindness or must be managed in special ways due to their high degree of invasiveness. 

How do I safely dispose of invasive species?

Please spread the word, not the plant!  Carefully dispose of invasive plants in the appropriate way at the appropriate location.

This is critical to help reduce the further spread of invasive species as many invasive species outbreaks start by inappropriate or illegal dumping.

Note: Some invasive species such as giant hogweed can be harmful if touched; please ensure you are wearing protective clothing if handling these species.

Locations for invasive plant disposal include:

Hartland Landfill

Invasive species can be disposed of at Hartland Landfill. They must be in bags marked “Invasive Species” or in covered loads. 

Knotweed species disposal requires a controlled waste permit (reduced fee), to ensure proper disposal protocols are followed,. For hours and fees, visit:

Municipal Drop Off

Some local governments have yard waste drop-off that will take many invasive species. Some may have limitations (i.e. no seeds) and/or restrict certain species.

Note: Knotweed species must not be disposed of at these locations. Contact us or your local government for more information on knotweed disposal.

Knotweed Species

Free disposal of knotweed species is available as part of the regional invasive species program coordinated by the CRD. 

To be part of this program, local government staff or specially trained contractors must treat and dispose of the knotweed. If you have a unique situation and need disposal assistance, please contact us.

What regional coordination is in place for invasive species management in the capital region?

Effective invasive species management depends on working together. The CRD’s invasive species program provides coordination and support on this issue across the region.

Chaired and coordinated by the CRD, the Capital Region Invasive Species Partnership is a collaborative intergovernmental working group comprised of  local governments, First Nations and other stakeholders working together to address high risk invasive species.

The CRD works with other regional and provincial partners including the Invasive Species Council of BC, regional invasive organizations, major land managers in the capital region and other key partners, such as provincial agencies.  Working together, we focus on priority invasive species issues and public outreach. We provide:

  • Regional public outreach on priority invasive species
  • Regional early detection rapid response (EDRR) program to manage priority species
  • Local collaboration and planning
  • Partnerships for effective management

See an invasive species? Please say something.

Contact us by email

Further invasive species resources:

Emergency Contacts

Emergency Management of BC 1.800.663.3456
Report a Spill