British Columbians become PlantWise as more garden stores stop selling invasive plants

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 10, 2015 – Williams Lake, BC—During Invasive Species Action Month this June, BC gardeners are becoming more PlantWise about making wise choices to stop the spread of invasive species, with the majority of garden stores choosing to not sell invasive plants. The PlantWise program, coordinated by the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia (ISCBC), helps both industry and consumers understand which plants are invasive, supporting the horticulture industry’s transition to becoming invasive-free, and building consumer demand for non-invasive plants.

“Thanks to our efforts with the PlantWise program over the past three years, fewer invasive plants are now sold at BC garden centres,” says Gail Wallin, Executive Director of the Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC). “While total sales by garden centres of invasive plants in now under one per cent for the industry, there are still invasive species being sold and traded in BC. We hope that by educating both consumers and the horticultural industry, we can make British Columbians more PlantWise.”

The cost of invasive species to Canada is between $16.6 billion and $34.5 billion per year.  Invasive species cause increased maintenance costs to public parks and private property, devaluing real estate. For example, the explosion of leafy spurge in Manitoba has caused a $30 million reduction in land values. Many invasive plants are sold to customers, escape cultivation and are now invasive in BC. Examples include purple loosestrife, English ivy, yellow flag iris, yellow archangel and Russian olive.

PlantWise is a prevention-based program designed for the horticulture industry and consumers. The program encourages people to choose only safe, non-invasive plants for their gardens. PlantWise ambassadors provide direction to gardeners through education and awareness, in-store signage and Grow Me Instead, a series of resources on selecting non-invasive plant species. The popular Grow Me Instead brochure lists 26 of BC’s most ‘unwanted’ plants in horticulture, as well as five recommended alternatives of non-invasive native or exotic plants for gardeners and landscapers.

“By committing to make a simple change in behaviour, people can make a measurable difference in reducing the spread of horticulturally invasive plants in BC,” adds Wallin. “British Columbians can learn more and get involved in Invasive Species Action Month throughout June at or on social media at #ActionOnInvasivesBC.

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About the Invasive Species Council of BC
The Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC) is working to minimize the negative ecological, social and economic impacts caused by the introduction, establishment, and spread of invasive species for more than 10 years. Their goals are to: educate the public and professionals about invasive species and their risks to ecosystems and economies through activities such as workshops, seminars and newsletters; coordinate research relating to invasive species and make this available to the public; and undertake and support actions that improve the health of BC’s natural ecosystems. 

Funding for this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the BC Ministry of Agriculture through the Canada-BC Agri-Innovation Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative. The PlantWise industry program is delivered by the Investment Agriculture Foundation of BC.

Media contact:
Gail Wallin

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