Belle Isle, January of 2015. The great majority of native trees and shrubs have lost their leaves, but green is seen everywhere. These are non-native, invasive species – privet, Japanese honeysuckle, English ivy and others – crowding out the native species that would normally occupy the under-story. English ivy also threatens mature trees. In this situation, new native trees and shrubs will not replace those that are lost; non-native species will continue to spread, eventually becoming the dominant species. Since non-native plant species do not support our native insects, diversity will decrease as we lose insect species on which all others depend, directly or indirectly, for food. The variety of fruits and nuts will also decrease. Belle Isle is just one example. This is occurring in every park in the City of Richmond; perhaps on your own property.
Tree Stewards intend to remove non-native species from targeted areas of Belle Isle and replace them with native trees, shrubs and perennials. This is a two year project in cooperation with other volunteer groups and community volunteers. The invasive plant issue is huge, our efforts are small but we must start somewhere. The hope is to expand the work area over time and to provide some educational opportunities along the way. As we work, you should be able to see a distinct difference between the restored areas and those that have been claimed by non-native species.
Interested in joining this effort? Work days are posted at James River Park Invasive Plant Task Force’s volunteer webpage: JRPS Invasive Task Force.
- Some of this work is physically demanding.
- Contact with poison ivy is possible.