Most non-native plants in Alaska, such as non-invasive garden ornamentals and staple crops, are beneficial to society.
However, there is a small subset of non-native plants that are able to grow aggressively in Alaska, spreading outside of areas of cultivation, displacing native plants and wildlife, and having negative effects on human health, the economy and the environment.
Alaska was long thought to be protected from invasive plants by geographic isolation and harsh climates. In recent years, however, it has become clear that we are no longer beyond the reach of the invasive species that cause economic losses and environmental degradation throughout the rest of North America. Well-established and expanding populations of highly invasive plants have been documented in Alaska. These species pose a serious threat to:
- Agriculture - increasing production costs
- Tourism - reducing recreational opportunities, restricting access, and causing physical injury
- Wildlife – out-competing the native vegetation that wildlife depends on
- Fisheries - reducing water quality, clogging streams and degrading fish spawning habitat
- Ecosystems - altering the frequency and intensity of wildfire, increasing erosion and decreasing biodiversity
- Subsistence Resources - crowding out native plants and wildlife
- Land Values - established infestations can be costly to control or eradicate
Interested in learning more?
How YOU can help
Early detection is a crucial component of an effective invasive species management program.
Detecting invasive species while they are establishing enables a prompt, coordinated containment and eradication response which reduces negative ecological and economic impacts. Early detection of new infestations requires vigilant and regular monitoring. To achieve this, interested citizens need to be educated on how to identify species of concern and learn where to report their findings.