In 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency included "Foundations for Invasive Species Collaborations" as a grant category for its Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) program. The stated goal of this category was to start projects focused on centralizing and sharing information related to specific invasive species (or groups of species), and on facilitating greater cooperation and collaboration between different stakeholder groups to improve control and/or spread prevention. MIPN developed a proposal to apply this approach to woody invasive plants, particularly those that were introduced, and in some cases are still in trade, through ornamental horticulture. In the fall of 2017, we learned that the project was funded.
The composite image below shows how woody species that are attractive in gardens and landscapes can cause problems in natural areas. The left two pictures show burning bush (Euonymus alatus) in a garden, where it is beloved for its fall foliage, and the same species overtaking the under-story of a forested area. The middle two pictures show porcelain berry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata), a woody vine, growing nicely on a garden trellis and growing as a mono-culture in forest edge, where it can grow up and over native shrubs and trees, chocking them out. The right two pictures show Callery pear (Pyrus calleryana) in full spring bloom both as a popular street tree and as a problem species in forest edges and under-stories. All three of these species produce fruit that is eaten by birds that deposit the seeds in natural areas, where they often grow with great success. What starts in the garden doesn't always stay in the garden!
As it develops, the Collaborative project will adopt its own distinct name and will be getting its own website. In the meantime, this will be the spot for project documents and updates.
Please see a full press release announcing the new project here (pdf). Feel free to download and forward to any applicable contacts!
Looking for more detail? Here's a "Cliff's notes" document describing the project's key goals and expected outcomes (pdf).
If you'd like to learn more or know for certain you'd like to be involved in stakeholder discussion on woody ornamental invasive plants in the Great Lakes Basin region, please get in touch!