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Heartland in Niagara Falls gets funding to fight invasive plant

The money is to help deal with the invasive plant phragmites

Heartland Forest Nature Experience of Niagara Falls, Ont., was awarded $9,645 from the Green Shovels Collaborative’s Invasive Phragmites Control Fund to combat the invasive plant, phragmites.

This project joins 20 others from across Ontario supported through the Invasive Phragmites Control Fund, a granting program made possible by an expanded investment of $250,000 from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Invasive phragmites is an aggressive plant that spreads quickly and poses a considerable threat to Ontario’s environment and economy. phragmites outcompetes native species for water and nutrients. Growing up to 5 metres in height and up to 1 metre below ground, phragmites forms dense stands that generally provide poor habitat and food for wildlife, including several species at risk. Once established, phragmites can grow into dense, single species stands that can degrade local environments including reducing biological diversity, impacting infrastructure, agriculture, recreation, tourism, and public safety.

Investing in a collaborative, sustained solution to phragmites is well worth it. A 2021 study estimated total economic benefits realized by controlling phragmites could exceed $113 million annually in Ontario. An investment in scaled phragmites control would pay dividends in preventing the many costs of phragmites to Ontario through reduced agricultural production, reduced public access to water, increased flooding, and lost tourism revenue.

Since 2003, Heartland Forest inspires and enriches the lives of people of all abilities through inclusive programs and hands on exploration. Invasive phragmites Control and Community Awareness Removal is an ongoing, collaborative project using proven strategies to control to reduce phragmites stands. They also aim to protect the spring vernal pools, improve conditions for native plant recruitment and increase community awareness through education and volunteer engagement. 

"The main purpose of our project is to eliminate or impede the invasion of phragmites into our unique Carolinian forest ecosystem, restored wetlands, and standing water ecosystems, with our biggest concern being the existing populations within our wet meadow, pollinator trails, and forest edges," said Natasha Rogers, Facility and Grounds Manager, Heartland Forest Nature Experience.

You can learn more about the Invasive Phragmites Control Fund here.