Biocontrol Development

The Biocontrol Development staff of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations' Invasive Plant Program provide new biocontrol agents to invasive plant managers in British Columbia by enabling research into potential new biocontrol agents and developing received agents into management tools.

The goal of FLNRO's invasive plant biocontrol program is to reduce invasive plant populations to ecologically and economically acceptable levels, and to prevent invasive plant encroachment into new areas.

The approach used to carry out this goal is Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which involves: prevention of invasive plant encroachment; hand pulling; seeding; clipping; herbicide spraying and biological control. These activities are carried out by Ministry staff.

Invasive Plants

Invasive plants, typically those not native to North America, are threatening to destroy our precious resources. These non-native plants (also commonly referred to as 'weeds') are both an ecological and an economic problem. They are extremely aggressive and can out-compete crops and native vegetation leading to dense, widespread areas of invasive plants. As a result, the diversity of our native plant communities is decreasing and our ecosystems are being damaged.

dog with Hound's tongue burrs stuck in its fur Invasive plant dispersal is carried out mainly by humans in the movement of whole plants, seeds, burs or root pieces as horticulture products or on transported goods, machinery and vehicles and also on footwear, clothing or pets. Spread also occurs by wind, water, livestock and wildlife. Soil erosion, over-grazing, off-roading and other forms of soil disturbance can further spread these invaders. As native vegetation is reduced, so is the amount of forage available for wildlife and livestock. Many of these invasive plants are not considered a food source, are toxic, or cause mechanical problems to animals and humans. Capable of producing thousands of seeds/plant, which may lie dormant for many years, they pose a very real threat to the continued existence of many of our native species and the biodiversity of our environment.

The effects of invasive plants on ecosystem functioning are intricately complex. For example these invasive plants exist near the bottom of the food chain, upsetting the ability of British Columbia's plants to provide food to subsequent levels above that have evolved with dependence on our native plant species. The direct effects of invasive plants out-competing native plants can be obvious. However, indirect impacts further up the food chain may not be initially recognized, but may be far more devastating.

Food Chain

There are several pieces of legislation to address invasive plants in British Columbia, including, but not limited to: the Forest and Range Practices Act (FRPA); the Integrated Pest Management Act (IPMA); the Community Charters Act, and the Weed Act. The Weed Act designates invasive plants as noxious weeds when addressed by this Act.

There are many sources of information and images on invasive plant species and their management strategies/techniques, some of which can be accessed with the links on this site. We encourage everyone to learn how to identify invasive plants and to participate in preventing their spread.