Buckthorn collage

OP125 stewardship projects: Bye bye, Buckthorn!

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education Leader David Bree at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

“EI” is a term we use a lot at Ontario Parks.

EI stands for ecological integrity, or the biodiversity and naturalness of an ecosystem. Protecting and restoring the ecological integrity of our provincial parks is vitally important to us.

2018 marks Ontario Parks’ 125th anniversary. To help celebrate this milestone, the public will be invited to give back, learn, and participate in a series of stewardship programs to help protect biodiversity in provincial parks. Stewardship programs include BioBlitz events, invasive species removal, and native species planting to name a few.

At Presqu’ile Provincial Park, our money went towards removal of a nasty invasive species: Buckthorn.

Protecting our environment

Hiking Marsh Boardwalk Trail with dog

Ecological integrity is one of the management keystones of the park system.

It really just means that we try to keep natural ecological processes functioning with as little impact by people as possible. Additionally, we will enhance and fix habitats that have been broken by human influence in the past.

While this may sound very grand, an ecological integrity project can be very simple, and something that anyone can do.

For example, here at Presqu’ile we were awarded $2,000 to spend on our Buckthorn removal project.

What is Buckthorn?

Buckthorn removal

Buckthorn is one of many non-native invasive species found at our park.

Buckthorn is a problem as it grows thickly and chokes out other plants, degrading our overall biodiversity.

Buckthorn is a tenacious foe. Removing it requires cutting it down, hauling the multiple stems away, and having licenced staff carefully apply a herbicide on the stumps to prevent resprouting.

Removal of Buckthorn is just one of the many ecological projects we have at the park. We are tackling it on an ongoing basis, with help from our community partners.

Foremost is the Friends of Presqu’ile Park, who have sponsored a fall tree planting and invasive plant removal project for a number of years. Funding from the Friends goes to extending our seasonal biodiversity staff, who tackle this important work along with a number of volunteers.

Putting EI into action

Staff with Buckthorn haul

When we received news of our $2000 award in mid-November 2017, our seasonal Buckthorn removal project was well underway.

It seemed natural to use the award to extend our three staff already working an extra week to keep hammering that Buckthorn.

The call went out to our various volunteers. Would they mind braving one more week of chilly November weather?

The answer? Of course! With everyone on board, we could tackle many more Buckthorn.

Keeping Presqu’ile naturally beautiful

Relaxing by the beach

Presqu’ile will be a little healthier thanks to our 125 EI grant.

But the work goes on, and we will be back at various ecological integrity projects throughout 2018.

If you are interested in lending a hand, check out the website cited above. Or send an email to info@friendsofpresquile.on.ca and ask about upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Other OP125 stewardship programs

Stay tuned for more stewardship program dates later this spring.

Visit our OP125 events page for more information.

To help celebrate Ontario Parks’ 125th anniversary, parks across the province are hosting 13 stewardship programs to help protect biodiversity in provincial parks.