Woodland invasive species in Minnesota

Invasive species are species that can take over native habitats, causing degradation of native ecosystems and a variety of associated problems.  As defined by the U.S. Forest Service an invasive species is: nonnative to the ecosystem; and upon introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.

BuckthornSome of the most common invasive species in Minnesota’s woods include buckthorn, garlic mustard, Dutch elm disease and the emerald ash borer.  Others that might not come to mind could be earthworms or Gypsy moths.  All of these species are non-native and are causing significant damage in Minnesota’s forests. You can find identification guides to common invasive species at the DNR invasive species index.

As a landowner it is important to know the economic and ecological threats invasives pose on your property. Since invasives often can quickly invade a woodland it is important to have a working knowledge of management techniques. Here are a few practices you can be actively involved in to help manage invasives in your area:

  • Get to know common invasives by sight. Here is a full-color guide to Minnesota’s forest invaders published by the Minnesota Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee. Minnesota DNR also has a good guide to forest invasive species.
  • If you find invasives in your woods, act quickly to control or eradicate them.  The Minnesota department of agriculture has species specific management guidelines and identification at their plants, pests and pest control site.
  • Talk to your neighbors and others, create community awareness, and help them keep invasives out too.  If your neighbor’s land is infested, you’ll have to work that much harder to keep invasives out of your land.
  • Report outbreaks of new invasives in your area.  For woodland invasives, your best first contact is your DNR forestry area office.

For more information you can go to the USDA’s Minnesota invasives page.

Once an invasive species is well established in your woods, it can be almost impossible to eradicate.  Prevention is key, act quickly to keep invasives out!

Eli 's work addresses Minnesota forest ecology & management. He's based in St Paul.

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