‘Plant, Don’t Plant’: Fighting Environmental Invaders in New York 0

Mile-a-minute weed, Persicaria perfoliata, is one of New York State’s harmful invasive planta. (This is an illustration; the plant doesn’t have eyes.)

Some of the worst environmental threats don’t come from a smokestack or a pipeline.  Increasingly, New York State’s ecological health is threatened by an array of invasive plants.

“Mile a minute” weed, Japanese barberry and mugwort are just some of the more infamous species on the state’s Most Unwanted List. Feeling lost yet?  Don’t worry, this trusty fact sheet from the Plant Conservation Alliance might shed some light on some of the nefarious plants we’re talking about.

Mile-a-Minute weed ravaging a forest; countless trees and other plant life are deprived of necessary resources in order to survive.

Mile-a-Minute weed ravaging a forest; countless trees and other plant life are deprived of necessary resources in order to survive.

Invasive plants species can have devastating effects on the biodiversity and ecological sustainability in the areas they inhabit, including but most definitely not limited to the deterioration of rare native plant and animal species.

For this reason these plants, and over twenty others, are already on the “Do Not” sell list in Connecticut, where regulations make it unlawful to sell, import, purchase, and transport invasive plant species into the state.  New York’s own Nassau and Suffolk counties in Long Island have already taken a step in the right direction, with laws banning the sale of over 63 nonnative invasive plants.

Here in Westchester County, home of the Pace Academy’s Environmental Policy Clinic, we may want to learn a little something from our neighbors and forge some comprehensive legislation and campaigns to combat this pressing issue.  And now that’s where we come in!

Working with the Westchester Land Trust, Westechester Community College’s Native Plant Center and others, the Clinic is preparing to launch its Plant, Don’t Plant campaign — a handy consumer’s pocket guide to keep harmful plants out of our environment and under control modeled after the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Seafood Watch” palm card. Collaborating closely with the Land Trust we will reach out to landowners and consumers to help them stay botanically informed, and promote the use of native plants.  Stay tuned!

On Twitter, follow our class at #epolicypace and the issue at #plantdontplant.