Whistler is host to a diverse and spectacular natural environment with a variety of ecosystems, abundant natural resources, and a rich diversity of species.
The potential impacts of invasive species are of increasing concern to the resort community. The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is working to manage these threats through an integrated and collaborative approach.
What are invasive species?
Invasive species are plants, animals or insects that are not native to the area and if introduced or spread can cause economic or environmental damage or harm to human health. When invasive species are introduced to an area they didn’t naturally inhabit, it is generally as a result of human activities.
Invasive species do not have natural controls, such as insects, viruses or competing plants to keep them in check and they can grow rapidly and spread quickly, impacting other species and habitat around them.
How many are in Whistler?
To date, research has identified over 150 invasive species in Whistler. In fact, nearly 20 per cent of plants documented so far by the Whistler Biodiversity Project are invasive.
Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council & collaborative efforts
The RMOW has been working closely with the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC) since 2009 to understand and manage the risk of invasives in Whistler.
The RMOW is working with SSISC to closely monitor high priority species, particularly those in the Prevent and Eradicate management categories, and to eradicate Japanese Knotweed and Yellow Flag Iris from all sites in Whistler. The RMOW is implementing a strategic approach towards eradicating or controlling key invasive species on municipal lands, with a focus on environmentally sensitive areas and areas with high vector potential. The 2018 Annual Report will provide an update on the current status within the community.
Policy and planning
- Our Invasive Species Management Plan guides an integrated, collaborative approach to minimizing the risks of invasive species to the community.
- The Environmental Protection Bylaw prohibits the planting of invasive species in Whistler. It also allows the municipality to provide enforceable notice to remove invasive plant species from private land.
- The Solid Waste Bylaw provides guidelines for the disposal of garbage and other waste, including invasive plant species.
How can you help?
Residents and visitors have an important role to play in stopping the spread of invasive species. Here are a few simple things you can do:
- Learn about Whistler's 5 Worst Weeds.
- Report all invasive species sightings. Email SSISC at firstname.lastname@example.org or download a free app to identify and report invasive species anywhere in British Columbia.
- Remove invasive species from your property and dispose of them properly. For residents, this means bagging them and disposing of them at the Nesters or Function Junction waste depots. For landscapers, this means bagging them and disposing of them separately from other yard waste at the Waste Transfer Station.
- Clean equipment, boats, tools, vehicles and footwear before leaving and area with invasive plants.
- RMOW Invasive Species Management Plan
- Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council (SSISC)
- Knotweed: Identification and removal help video
- Invasive plant disposal protocol
- 2018 Annual Report (SSISC)