Invasive Species Council of British Columbia

December 10th, 2022

With all the good that comes with the December holiday season, it is important not to forget the harm of invasive species to our sensitive ecosystems. English ivy (Hedera helix) and English holly (Ilex aquifolium) are both species you may find adorning many a festive wreath this time of year.

While these plants may be pretty, they both have the potential to seriously harm local ecosystems, especially in developed or previously disturbed areas. Once either of these species become established in an area, they are extremely hard to eradicate and have the potential to spread both quickly and widely through the dispersal of their berries and seeds. They harm ecosystems by outcompeting native vegetation- even our great trees are not safe from being smothered.

English ivy (Hedera helix) overtaking a tree | Credit: J Leekie

The holiday season happens to be when one might find an abundance of festive decorations, so it is important to properly dispose of your ornamentals when the time comes. Bag up the plants separate from anything else, being careful not to allow any seeds or berries to escape, and take them to the appropriate landfill. Be sure to inform staff that you have invasive species to drop off.

If making your own decorations this holiday season consider using native species such as Oregon grape (Berberis nervosa), or Red elderberry (Sambucus racemose subsp. pubens). These are just two examples of native species that are so similar in appearance they are often mistaken for one another.

Oregon grape (Berberis nervosa) | Credit: Matthew Syvenky
Red elderberry (Sambucus racemose subsp. pubens) | Credit: D. Powell, USDA Forest Service,

PlantWise is a provincial program that supports the horticulture industry’s transition to become invasive-free. To learn which plants are invasive, alternatives to grow instead, and which retailers are committing to be PlantWise, visit

About the Author

Matthew Nettle was a dedicated ISCBC volunteer and member of the UVic Ecological Restoration Club. He contributed to invasive species management in a number of ways, including undertaking on-the-ground invasive species removal and writing articles to spread awareness, like this one!

Become a Youth Volunteer!

Join like-minded young adults to plan and carry out real-world activities. Support our goal to support healthy habitats and communities, keeping them free of invasive species. Learn more about becoming a youth volunteer!


By Jen Hegan | November 28th, 2022

Beautiful evergreen plants are starting to show up across B.C. and now is a good time to have a closer look (and feel and smell!) at our local native and non-native evergreen plants with ties to holiday decorating. 

Sights of English holly (Ilex aquifolium) and English ivy (Hedera helix) may get us humming cheery Christmas carols, but unfortunately these  introduced invasive plants  are quickly crowding out native plants in BC. While it is popular to use these and other invasive plants such as Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) and Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum) to make natural holiday decorations, there are ‘two sides to every coin’, making this an excellent educational theme for students leading up to the holidays.  

Collecting and creating holiday crafts, using either native or invasive plant materials,  combines Arts Education curriculum with inquiry questions such as: What are evergreen plants? Which introduced species grow in my community and how do they spread? How can I use plants to make art? How are native plants used currently and historically by First Nations?  

Harvesting Holly, Ivy, and other invasive species in your area certainly helps to remove these aggressive plants, but there are important criteria and responsibilities to consider when using them in order to prevent their spread. For example: 

  1. When harvesting, collect and bag all the plant pieces including berries and stems,  
  2. After craft making, bag and dispose of all extra plant material in the garbage to be sure they do not spread into new natural spaces, and  
  3. At the end of the holiday season, bag your decoration and dispose in the garbage.  

Check out this news story for classroom inspiration: Invasive plants make wreaths, and money, for Saanich, B.C., students | CBC News 

If you’d like to avoid using invasives in crafts altogether, evergreen native plants are a great, environmentally friendly option. Examples of native BC species that can become beautiful decorations include Oregon grape (Berberis spp.) ,  Red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), Salal (Gaultheria shallon), Kinnickinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) , and Cedar, Hemlock, and Fir tree boughs. Harvesting native plants comes with its own set of responsibilities. It is important to practice selective harvesting to not adversely impact the plants and surrounding vegetation. Check out this story from a Williams Lake school: Nesika School Decks the Halls with Oregon Grape

Invasive-free holiday décor created with native plants
Nesika Elementary student showing off their holiday décor

After creating your holiday decorations, continue the fun with another engaging plant activity developed by the Invasive-Wise Education program: Painting With Invasives

To learn more about both native and invasive plants in your area, and ideas on how to incorporate invasive species education into your teaching plans, contact an Invasive-Wise Education Facilitator at You can also sign up for the Invasive-Wise Education program and check out many more hands-on activities for students here.


November 5th, 2022

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you experience the nature around you?

I was born and raised in the Comox Valley and am currently a second-year NIC student studying digital design and web development. Prior to this, I obtained a marketing certificate from BCIT; but when my favourite class was ad design, I knew I wanted to step into the design and development space. While my education to this point has been limited to the digital space, I have always been interested in science, especially biology, and hope to eventually merge my passions of science and art.  

When I’m not drawing or doing homework, you can find me taking care of my many (many) house plants, hiking, SUPing, or hunting for mushrooms. I also enjoy travelling and exploring the many hidden gems that Vancouver Island has to offer.  

What do you like about volunteering and what inspired you to take action?

I have volunteered at several organizations over the last seven or eight years and have always found fulfilment in doing good to help the community – whether that is a community of humans, animals, or plants! I enjoy volunteering with ISCBC because as an avid amateur plant fiend, I slowly grew my knowledge of our local environment and how invasive species have impacted it. I also like ISCBC because of the diverse set of activities and options they have that count towards volunteering hours – I like to keep things fresh and having the option of a book club, webinar, or team plant has allowed me to mix things up whenever I feel like it.  

I have always had an interest in ecosystems and the way that the natural world works within itself to balance plants, animals, and the elements. I realized how impactful invasive species can be on local ecosystems, especially the negative effect on some very special and exclusive symbiotic relationships. The Pacific Northwest has so much biodiversity and the more I learn about it the more I wanted to help address the issues caused by invasive species. This yearning to help ultimately led me to find and join ISCBC, and I’m so glad I did.

What would you say to a potential volunteer?

The thing I appreciate the most about ISCBC is their flexibility. Being a student who works part-time, volunteers with other organizations, and tries to keep up with my many hobbies and my social life, it can be hard to find time for it all! I love volunteering for things that I am interested in when I have the time to do so. There is so much appreciation for all volunteers, whether you volunteer 3 hours a week or 3 hours a month, you always end up feeling fulfilled and appreciated! Volunteering even an hour a month can make a huge difference.

If you could choose to have one invasive species eradicated forever, which would it be and why? 

The species I would choose to eradicate is a toss-up between a few, but I think I would most like to get rid of spurge, especially Cypress and Myrtle spurges.  

You can find it sold in most garden centres and can be planted as a houseplant and for the recently popular rock gardens outside – but most people buy it without knowing how toxic it is. As a member of the Euphorbia family, the sap of any spurge is incredibly toxic to humans and is known to cause severe blisters and burns when touched, blindness if it contacts the eyes, and severe gastrointestinal issues if ingested.  

While pretty to the eye, there are so many options that are much safer to both humans and the local environment – not to mention, less invasive! A great replacement is the stonecrop family, especially the Broad-leaved Stonecrop, which can be found growing abundantly on Vancouver Island’s coastal cliffs. 

Become a Youth Volunteer!

Join like-minded young adults to plan and carry out real-world activities. Support our goal to support healthy habitats and communities, keeping them free of invasive species. Learn more about becoming a youth volunteer!


October 29th, 2022

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you experience the nature around you?

My passions and interests are all related to plants in some way or another. I am a plant tender and concocter, which includes gardening, seed saving, and restoration; and fermenting, medicine making, and natural dyes. 

I completed a diploma of Phytotherapy (Western Herbal Medicine) at Pacific Rim College in 2019. I specifically love to work with native plant species because they are local, accessible, and are special. That relates to invasive species in the sense that I deeply want to preserve the native (plant) species and grow them to prevent straining the local populations if harvesting. Shortly after graduating, I began working at a food security non-profit and joined as an ISCBC youth volunteer. This plant path has led me to have had the opportunity to work with ISCBC for almost a year now. 

What do you like about volunteering and what inspired you to take action?

The flexibility in volunteering has been a big draw for me. The youth volunteer program is accessible, which has made it possible to attend both virtual and in-person events whenever I get the chance to. I joined as a volunteer in July 2019 because invasive species have always been an interest of mine and they affect so much of the other interests I have related to plants and the environment. 

What would you say to a potential volunteer?

It is a fantastic volunteer opportunity if you have a passion or a curiosity to learn about invasive species and want to take local action. The combination of knowledgeable staff, resources, and networking opportunities provide a great hub for getting involved in accessible ways (virtually or in-person). 

If you could choose to have one invasive species eradicated forever, which would it be and why? 

Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius) because it was the first invasive species I learned about. I grew up in the Cowichan region and specifically remember my dad teaching me about how invasive Scotch broom was over 20 years ago. That opened my eyes to it at an early age and has kept the spread on my radar ever since, which has been devastating to experience.

Become a Youth Volunteer!

Join like-minded young adults to plan and carry out real-world activities. Support our goal to support healthy habitats and communities, keeping them free of invasive species. Learn more about becoming a youth volunteer!


By Craig Stephani | October 25th, 2022

We can probably thank Jimmy Kimmel and this SNL skit for invasive species costumes trending this Halloween. 

The Spotted lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) is a large, colourful insect native to China, Japan, India and Vietnam. Currently it is not present in BC, but it is established in 11 states including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. These extremely harmful pests cause widespread damage by feeding on host plants’ sap using their straw-like mouthparts. They spend most of their lives on or travelling between host plants, such as grapes, apple trees, various stone fruits, and many other hardwood tree species. However, their preferred host is the Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima), another invasive species. Unlike the Spotted lanternfly, the Tree of heaven is found in BC! 

In the province, the Tree of heaven has been spotted on southeastern Vancouver Island, as well as in the Fraser Valley and the Okanagan. This is creating growing concern among growers. If the lanternfly finds its way to BC, and the preferred host of the lanternfly is found in these important agricultural areas, the likelihood of this insect establishing itself here increases. This would lead to significant impacts to BC’s grape, fruit tree and forestry industries. Now that’s scary! 

The spooky season is upon us though and you will start to see yards, windows and balconies fill up with pumpkins, skeletons, cobwebs and all sorts of creepy goblins and monsters. Sure, all that sounds scary, but the negative impacts invasive species can have on our environment, economy, and health is even more spine-tingling! If you’re looking for a way to warn people to be aware of invasive species this Halloween – look no further than these five costumes inspired by invasive species that are already lurking here! 

Brown marmorated stink bug 

Brown marmorated stink bugs (Halyomorpha halys), first spotted in BC in 2015, grabbed headlines this fall – our own organization set a new reporting record with over 1,000 emails reporting sightings! These agricultural pests feed on over 100 different plant species including apple trees and grapes and is considered extremely destructive. You don’t have to worry about their bite, but they do have a foul odour when crushed! They are known to hitchhike long distances on vehicles so make sure you are practicing the simple steps of PlayCleanGo before traveling around the province. 

How can you recreate the look: Wear brown clothing, create a shield-like body out of cardboard with some white markings along the outer edge, make another pair of arms so you have six limbs total, give yourself two antennae and most importantly make two white bands on the upper part of your antennae – this is the beetle’s best defining characteristic! 

European green crab 

European green crabs (Carcinus maenas) are a highly invasive species in many parts of the world, including along the BC coast, and it is likely these crabs will continue to spread. Generalist feeders known to outcompete native crabs for food and habitat, they are highly damaging to eelgrass beds – critical habitat for many species of marine invertebrates and fish. 

How can you recreate the look: Wear dark greenish-brown clothing including mitts, create six fake arms so you have ten limbs total, design a headband that shows five spines per side along the side of the head and three spines in-between your eyes – this is a defining characteristic for European green crabs. 


Did you know that Goldfish (Carassius auratus) are one of the most widespread invasive fish in North America?! New populations are regularly found in southern BC and are likely the result of released pets. Goldfish can reduce the clarity of the waters they inhabit, which reduces the amount of sunlight reaching underwater plants. This results in habitat loss for native aquatic species. So, if you ever have a pet you can no longer care for, Don’t Let It Loose and discover what you can do instead. 

How can you recreate the look: Wear orange clothing including a hooded sweatshirt, attach cupcake liners, paper or felt circles as scales, attach eyes on side of hood, you can also add a tutu as a frilly fin. Despite their name, Goldfish come in a variety of colours, from olive to silvery-white to gold and orange. Feel free to play around with your colours! 

Red-eared slider 

Red-eared sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) are popular pets in many parts of the world. Unfortunately, as the turtles grow to full size and become more difficult to care for, some pet owners release them into natural ecosystems. Once released, they compete with native turtles – including the endangered Western painted turtle (Chrysemys picta bellii) – for basking sites, food, habitat and can even pass on diseases!  

How can you recreate the look: Wear green clothing, craft a turtle shell using items like cardboard or foil roasting pans, and use face paint to create red patches from the side of your eyes then down your face towards your neck. These red patches are the Red-eared slider’s most recognizable feature. 

Giant hogweed 

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is an invasive plant listed as noxious throughout the province of BC. Not only does this large invasive plant have prolific seed production and vigorous growth, it also poses a health hazard to BC citizens. The leaves and stems of Giant hogweed contain a clear, watery, highly toxic sap that can cause hypersensitivity to sunlight – resulting in burns, blisters, and scarring if you touch it. 

How can you recreate the look: Wear green clothing, create and attach large, coarsely toothed, deeply incised leaves from fabric or paper. If you would like to be flowering, make multiple umbrella-shaped clusters of white to light pink flowers by attaching pipe cleaners to a hat in that pattern. Are you a punny person? Wear a pig nose to really get the HOG-weed look down! 

Spread invasive species awareness this Halloween by showing off your invasive species-inspired costume! Take inspiration from the ideas shared here or creatively highlight the invasive species you are most passionate about. There is no shortage of imaginative costume ideas to design. Check out how Projects & Grants Coordinator Lauren Bosch has turned her pets into Japanese beetles! 

Don’t forget to tag us if you dress up as an invasive species for Halloween! Use #bcinvasives or find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at @iscbc!

And remember every one of us can play our part to stop the spread of invasive species by following simple steps to protect BC’s biodiversity and economy – familiarize yourself on the steps here

Craig is an Outreach Lead at ISCBC. He is passionate about sharing his excitement for nature with others. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, camping and exploring wild areas near and far. You can reach Craig at


By Craig Stephani | October 19th, 2022

The Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys; BMSB) has been making headlines across the province this October! ISCBC has fielded 1076 reports from the public in just a few days – setting a new reporting record for our organization. And the media was buzzing too! In just four days, we were contacted by every major media outlet in BC, curious and concerned about the bug that seems to be everywhere, and in noticeable numbers! What’s the big buzz anyway? 

These bugs, native to Asia, were first discovered in BC in 2015. Since then, BMSB have established themselves in the Fraser Valley, Metro Vancouver, Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island and the Okanagan Valley. And this year, BC residents have really taken notice of them!

So, why are we seeing so many reports for them right now? “The fall weather and shorter daylight hours signals them to look for cool, dry places to overwinter. This makes homes ideal places for them to be dormant and later emerge once spring arrives,” said Dr. Nick Wong, ISCBC’s manager of Science and Research.

Although the data is still being compiled, Dr. Wong had some insight into why we might be seeing more reports. “Since we’ve had nice warm weather into October in parts of the province, we’re likely seeing a surplus of stink bugs,” he said.

These bugs can come together in large numbers, such that an individual home may host hundreds, or even thousands of bugs. That is why it is important to prevent BMSB from entering your home by sealing off any entry points.

Okay, so we are seeing a lot of them but what is the concern? “BMSB are harmless to humans,” said Dr. Wong, “however, they have the potential to cause damage to several crops, including tree fruits, nuts, vegetables and row crops.”

Fruit affected by Brown marmorated stink bug | Credit: C. Penca

This damage causes bruises and blemishes on unripe fruits which can lead them to become infected, making fruits unappealing to eat. They also affect vineyards where even a few of the bugs can taint a batch of wine if they get caught in the crushing. Preventing their further spread into agricultural areas is critical.

You can help stop the spread by practicing the simple steps of PlayCleanGo. Making a difference is easy! Since these bugs are known to hitchhike long distances on vehicles, simply check your vehicle for any BMSB, and other invasive species, before travelling to another region. You can differentiate these shield-shaped bugs from native look-alikes by the  distinct white bands on their antennae.

BMSB comparison to a native look-alike

If you spot BMSB outside of urban areas in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, you can help by filling out the reporting form found on our website or the BC government’s online form. But because they’re already well established in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, unless you find one on a farm in these regions, there’s no need for further reporting.

If you’d like to learn even more about BMSB, check out our factsheet!

Craig is an Outreach Lead at ISCBC. He is passionate about sharing his excitement for nature with others. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, camping and exploring wild areas near and far. You can reach Craig at


By Steven Hayward, Callie Bouchard & Ksenia Kolodka | June 22nd, 2022

The protection of endangered species is critical to restoring biodiversity, especially in places where there is an infestation of invasive species. Our Stronger BC Action Teams have been hard at work removing various invasive species around the province and, along the way, they have found some interesting endangered native plants.

The Nanaimo Action Team and Campbell River Action Team met up at Oyster Bay Shoreline Park, a coastal meadow near Campbell River from May 3-5, 2022 to remove Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), Himalayan blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) and Purple deadnettle (Lamium purpureum). These species have negatively impacted the biodiversity of the park by displacing native plants.

Oyster Bay Shoreline Park is a recovered logging camp marked with sensitive ecosystem signs, as the endangered flower Deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidei) was translocated here to help recover and replenish the species. Based on their conservation status rank, each species and ecosystem is assigned to the red, blue or yellow list to help set conservation priorities and provide a simplified view of their status. Deltoid balsamroot is an S2 provincially imperiled species that is red-listed, which means it is at high risk of being endangered or lost in the near future. Its current distribution is limited to populations scattered throughout Victoria, Cowichan and Campbell River.

Deltoid balsamroot

This park is also home to Coastal triquetrella (Triquetrella californica) moss. This is an S1S2 provincially critically imperiled species that is also red-listed. This species’ current distribution in BC is known only in two populations; Campbell River and Galiano Island. It was found on the sandy backshores of Oyster Bay Shoreline Park and had Purple deadnettle encroaching on it, which our Action Teams removed along with Scotch broom and Himalayan blackberry. 

Coastal triquetrella

In total, the teams removed just under 25 bags of Scotch broom, Himalayan blackberry, and Purple deadnettle.

Before: Himalayan blackberry bushes
After: Himalayan blackberry removal
The result of hard work by our Nanaimo and Campbell River Action Teams!

Across BC, Canada and the world, invasive species pose the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. Experience with our Stronger BC Action Teams gives people looking for work in this province skills in invasive species management, setting them up for success in the environmental protection field. The hard work of our Action Teams is greatly appreciated! Check out our website later this summer to read more accomplishments of our Action Teams.

Ksenia is a Community Science Coordinator with ISCBC. She is passionate about nature conservation and taking film photos of the beautiful natural landscapes of BC. You can reach Ksenia at  

Steven Hayward is an Action Team Supervisor for ISCBC working on the ground to remove, manage, and prevent the spread of invasive species on Vancouver Island.


By Ksenia Kolodka & Katie Swinwood | June 9th, 2022

“Working with community scientists gives us a chance to interact with people with a wide variety of perspectives and broaden the reach and scope of our research to places that we wouldn’t normally be able to work.”  

Paul Abram, Research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada 


During fall time, you may have seen these shield-shaped bugs around your doorways or windows trying to find a warm place to settle down for the winter. If you accidentally step on them, you may notice they emit an awful odour. These are stink bugs – some are native, but some, like the Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) are invasive.

Invasive Brown marmorated stink bug | Credit: L. Buss
Native stink bug look-alikes | Credit: Gov. of B.C.

What is the Brown marmorated stink bug?

The Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is an invasive agricultural pest that can be found in BC’s Lower Mainland, Okanagan Valley, Columbia-Shuswap region, and Vancouver Island. BMSBs can be identified from other native stink bugs by their shield shape, white bands on their last two antenna segments, and white markings on their abdomen. Female bugs can lay up to 400 eggs during the summer on host plants. There can be up to two generations of bugs in a year if the weather is warm enough. The bugs mature in about five weeks, and then lay eggs the following spring. BMSBs spread by “hitchhiking” on vehicles, cargo containers, wood, and packing material. They can also be found on or in buildings and other protected areas over the winter. 

Brown marmorated stink bug

Impacts of BMSB  

The BMSB has a broad diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, seeds, green plants, and tree bark. They are especially a concern for orchard farmers, as BMSBs inject enzymes into fruits and vegetables that cause them to rot. Symptoms of a BMSB infestation include: deformed and discoloured fruits and seeds, shriveled berries and seeds, delayed maturity, increased sap flow and discoloured tree bark.  

Project details  

The Brown marmorated stink bug is controlled in its home region of Asia by the Samurai wasp (Trissolcus japonicus). While this parasitic wasp favors the invasive brown marmorated stink bug, it may also attack stink bugs native to British Columbia. The Samurai wasp was recently discovered in British Columbia and has the potential to be an effective biocontrol method for the Brown marmorated stink bug.  The BC Ministry of Agriculture and Food and scientists at Agri-Food Canada are looking for volunteers to collect the eggs of Brown marmorated stink bugs and other native stink bug species from June to the end of August, 2022. 

Brown marmorated stink bug eggs | Credit: Gary Bernon, USDA,

Impact of the project

Collecting the eggs will help determine whether Samurai wasps have parasitized stink bug eggs in British Columbia and if so, where this has occurred. Paul Abram, a research scientist with Agriculture and Agri-food Canada states that “Working with community scientists gives us a chance to interact with people with a wide variety of perspectives and broaden the reach and scope of our research to places that we wouldn’t normally be able to work. We often learn things about our study systems that we otherwise never would by interacting with people about their insect finds.” 

Reporting info 

The best places to look for egg masses are on the undersides of leaves of trees and shrubs that have small developing fruits or seeds, like maple trees, dogwoods and raspberries. However, stink bugs lay on a variety of different plant species. The total size of an egg cluster will be no larger than a dime. If you spot a stink bug around, it can be a sign that you will find eggs. If you find an egg mass, take a photo of it, put it in a small sealed container, and submit the photo and any other information here: If what you found is confirmed to be a BMSB egg mass, then you will be contacted with instructions to send the sample to the Ministry of Agriculture and Food. 

For more information about the project:  

Coastal BC:

Interior BC: 

For more information about the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug:

See our BMSB fact sheet here

BSMB life cycle

Ksenia is a Community Science Coordinator with ISCBC. She is passionate about nature conservation and taking film photos of the beautiful natural landscapes of BC. You can reach Ksenia at  

Katie is the Outreach Coordinator at ISCBC. She is grateful to live, work and play in Nelson on the traditional territories of the Ktunaxa, Sinixt and Syilx peoples. In her spare time, you can find her adventuring in the woods with her dog. You can reach Katie at


June 3rd, 2022

This May, École Nesika students looked a little more closely at what grows in their backyards with the Invasive Species Council of BC. They were on a mission to find species growing in their community to include in a special field guide for kids to be developed by The Council. 

Not only will the kid-friendly field guide include native species children are curious about, it will also include some invasive species to avoid. “We hope that a kid’s field guide for the area will act as an engaging and age-appropriate learning tool to connect kids to their natural environment” says Cariboo Coordinator Camille Sangarapillai.              

Students started the project by investigating existing field guides and choosing things they liked from each. They decided that pictures, fun facts and the species’ names (common, Latin, and Secwépemc) were important to include in a kid’s field guide. One of the teachers remarked how excited they were that the students were enchanted by the technical field guides and wanted to make their own! 

Students practiced making pages for a field guide. They each chose a favourite species, such as the white-tailed deer above.
They included pictures, names and fun facts

The following week, Nesika students took to their schoolground forest to find species to include in the guide. They searched from the ground to the sky for animals and plants living there. Special species found include towering Douglas Fir trees, bounding mule deer, and nodding onion. A few students came across a cheerful light-yellow flower, in full bloom despite a cool spring, that they identified as Rough-fruited fairybells belonging to the lily family. These species are native to Williams Lake and are part of healthy ecosystems. 

While the students mostly encountered native species, they did find an invasive plant known as Western Goatsbeard. It has bright yellow flowers that, when they turn to seed, resemble giant dandelion heads. This was a great opportunity for the youth to learn strategies to curb the spread of invasive species, in this case to avoid blowing on Western Goatsbeard seedheads. 

The Council is using the list of student-identified species to help create the field guide and will be working with Williams Lake First Nation youth in early July to add more. The goal is to have a field guide for kids in the Cariboo by kids in the Cariboo. The guides will be developed throughout the summer and will be distributed to communities around the Williams Lake Community Forest in the fall.  

“I was so impressed by their exploration and observations. I have lived in the Cariboo for a long time and had never observed fairybells in flower. I can’t wait to see kids out on community trails with their guides in hand,” remarked Camille.  

This project was generously funded by the Williams Lake Community Forest, a joint partnership between the City of Williams Lake and Williams Lake First Nation.  

Nesika students spot a deer while out ID’ing on the schoolgrounds

Camille Sangarapillai is the Cariboo Coordinator and an Education Facilitator at ISCBC. She is grateful to live, work, and play on the traditional lands of the Secwépemc and Tŝilhqot’in Nations. In her spare time, she enjoys foraging, gardening, sewing and spending time with her children in the great outdoors. You can reach Camille at


By Ksenia Kolodka | June 3rd, 2022

Since the start of May, our Stronger BC Action Teams have been in the field managing and removing invasive species in nine BC communities including Campbell River, Nanaimo, Surrey, Abbotsford, Kamloops, Salmon Arm, Quesnel, Nelson, and Cranbrook. What they do in a day makes a measurable difference on the ground. It takes a special person to oversee each project, guide the field team, lead on safety, and inspire this important work. 

From completing paperwork behind-the-scenes, to managing a group of Action Team members, to pulling up sturdy bushes of Himalayan blackberry, our Action Team supervisors are more like superheroes.  

One month into the 2022 field season, we caught up with a few of these key leaders, as they get into the weeds with their teams. If you’ve ever wondered what makes someone interested in working with invasive species or you’re curious about a memorable day in the field, Lindy Lin, Callie Bouchard, Torin Kelly and Briana Walter share some fascinating tales!  Say hello to four of our fabulous 2022 Action Team supervisors!  

What made you interested in working with invasive species? 

Lindy: When I was still in Selkirk College Recreation, Fish and Wildlife program last summer, I wanted to work in a position that would make a positive change to our natural environment, so I worked as a Nelson Action Team member last summer and felt really fulfilled after the work term. 

Callie: I became interested in invasive species through all the time I spend in the outdoors and gradually watching more invasive plants take over more space than the native plants I grew up enjoying, so keeping things under control as much as I can and keeping BCs biodiversity strong has become more and more important to me over the last few years. 

Torin: In school when we learned about invasive species impact on BC’s biodiversity, it really kick-started my interest with invasive species (plants & animals). I also figured it would be my active contribution to helping slow the effects of climate change in BC. 

Briana: I have been interested in working with the environment for a long time. Working with invasive species is one way we can help protect BCs natural biodiversity and I want for play a part! My background is marine biology, so I am especially interested in the management of the European green crab, as well as the different Invasive fish species that are around. 

What has been your most memorable site so far?  

Lindy: A Scotch broom site in a small community in Glade, BC, about 20 minutes north of Castlegar.. Our team in 2021 removed a patch of Scotch broom on MOTI (Ministry of Transportation and Industry) right of way. Then we returned to the site to monitor and reapply manual treatment a week ago, when only small plants and shoots were visible. The treatment success and visible difference from the 2021 mass manual treatment was very satisfying. The residents in the area remembered us and were very thankful for our efforts because the site was adjacent to their agricultural property.  

Callie: Most memorable site so far is a Retention Pond that will soon be a Park.  It’s home to many ducks and this spring has brought many sweet ducklings that have been a joy to watch grow. 

Torin: Beautiful Chilliwack Lake Provincial Park. We surveyed the trails and campground and found nothing but beautiful views and some very confident Canada jays who were hungry for my grapes. It was also a great time to learn about my teams’ different interests in the natural world.

Torin Kelly

Briana: The Surrey action team has had a lot of really great sites. The most memorable so far this year is Pacific Spirit Regional Park in Vancouver.  We were involved in mapping and treating large and small bunches of Holly, laurel, and blackberry. It gave us a great sense of our purpose in an ecological restoration area, gaining mapping experience and knowing our work was making a difference. It was super memorable too because we got caught in an absolute downpour. When we finished work, everyone was dripping! This was great as we worked really hard during the downpour, and it really showed how amazing everyone’s work ethic is. 

Briana Walter

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue environmental work? 

Lindy: If you have the desire to help the environment, no matter how big or how little, just follow your passion, because the rewards you receive from mother nature are more than you can imagine. 

Callie: Volunteer! Find the things that you are passionate about and do what you can to get involved. Read books and articles and become knowledgeable about what you want to pursue before you go to Uni if that is your decision. The more real-world experience and networking you do, the more you will succeed 

Torin: Volunteer with a local non-profit, whether they are focused on invasive species, salmon habitat, or species at risk. All non-profits are looking for passionate volunteers, to bring their experience and knowledge. It is a great way to get amazing work experience without paying for school. I finished my Bachelors of Science in ecological restoration, but still find I get more out of the two-day volunteer workshops that many non-profits put on around fish sampling, plant surveying, bird counts, and so much more. 

Briana: My advice for someone who wants to work in the environmental field is to get field experience and choose to study something you’re interested in. The field experience helps tremendously because you will gain a range of different skills that will apply to many of the jobs you’re seeking. Choosing something you love to study is important too, as there are so many different programs out there, and many of them will land you a job in the environment field, not just an environmental science degree. 

Lindy Lin

What is your favourite song or podcast to listen to while completing field work?  

Lindy: We don’t often listen to music or podcasts because our work sites are usually where the wildlife like to hang out, so we need to pay attention to our surroundings, and each other. Besides, we have nature to listen to, that’s our best choice of music or podcasts.   

Callie: I love to listen to either audio books or podcasts. Ologies is a great podcast as you learn something new every time. For audio books it’s a great time to catch up on books I want to read or this month’s book club pick! 

Torin: Podcast: Ologies, song: Things I Thought Were Mine – Alfie Templeman 

Briana: I have two. Ologies is a great podcast as it goes over a bunch of different science topics for each episode. I also love this podcast will kill you. It’s all about different health issues that humans have faced and all the facts about it. I find it super fascinating! 

Across BC, Canada and the world, invasive species pose the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. Experience with our Stronger BC Action Teams gives people looking for work in this province skills in invasive species management, setting them up for success in the environmental protection field.  

Ksenia is a Community Science Coordinator with ISCBC. She is passionate about nature conservation and taking film photos of the beautiful natural landscapes of BC. You can reach Ksenia at