This article was contributed by Brittney Rogers-SLELO PRISM in the Summer 2020 newsletter. The feature image was contributed by Invasive Species Centre, Ontario www.invasivespeciescentre.ca.
Indigenous species are facing an unprecedented challenge; currently seated as the underdog in the battle against invasive species.
There are many ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change, but did you know that preventing the spread of invasive species is one of them? Under most scenarios, invasive species populations are expected to be exacerbated with climate change, while indigenous species ranges and populations continue to be reduced. The decline of indigenous species and natural ecosystems further accelerates climate change, providing an opportunity for invasive species to proliferate, resulting in a positive feedback loop that only further exacerbates the situation.
We can reverse this loop. Invasive species are considered one of the main causes of biodiversity loss and species extinction. Without management, invasive species can quickly and easily spiral beyond our control.
By combating invasive species, we are able to protect indigenous species, thus mitigating the effects of climate change and preventing new invasive introductions. Climate change presents an immense challenge to management but also an unparalleled opportunity to manage for change and to engage our partners and the public in the process. Challenges should be met with careful assessment of local and regional goals and in consideration of potential climate change impacts. Thinking creatively and optimistically is vital to treating the climate crisis as an opportunity for constructive change!
Restoring ecosystems and reforesting for natural biodiversity with climate-change resilient species can further increase management effectiveness. It is important for us to take advantage of this window of opportunity and strategically reset these systems to develop rich plant communities and create areas of higher ecological or conservation value.