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 posed by invasive species are of increasing concern to the resort community. The Resort Municipality of Whistler 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 whose introduction or spread can cause economic or environmental damage and/or harm to human health. Invasive species are introduced by human activities to an area they didn’t naturally inhabit. They establish successfully in that new location and they are aggressive colonizers of adjacent habitat.
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% of plants documented so far by the Whistler Biodiversity Project are invasive.
Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council
Through Whistler2020 and our Official Community Plan, the Resort Municipality of Whistler has committed to protect local native biodiversity. The Resort Municipality of Whistler 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. SSISC is a charitable organization that works cooperatively with other organizations, governments and industry in the Sea to Sky region to minimize the negative impacts caused by invasive species. SSISC maintains an inventory of invasive species for Whistler (in addition to other communities), categorized by the following strategic management priorities: prevent, eradicate, contain, and strategic control.
Here are some things the municipality is doing to minimize the risks of invasive species in Whistler:
Inventory and Monitoring
- The RMOW actively supports SSISC in maintaining a comprehensive inventory of invasive species in Whistler.
- We work with SSISC to closely monitor high priority species, particularly those in the Prevent and Eradicate management categories.
Working with partners
- We collaborate closely with SSISC on invasive species outreach and training programs, monitoring and control works.
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 Garbage Disposal and Wildlife Attractants Bylaw provides guidelines for the disposal of garbage and other waste, including invasive plant species.
On The Ground
- Collaboratively with SSISC, the RMOW is actively working to eradicate Japanese Knotweed and Yellow Flag Iris from all sites in Whistler.
- The RMOW is implementing a strategic approach towards eradicating and/or controlling key invasive species on municipal lands, with a focus on environmentally sensitive areas and areas with high vector potential.
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 which species are invasive to Whistler.
- 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 appropriately (i.e. as garbage).
- Clean equipment, boats, tools, vehicles and footwear before leaving and area with invasive plants.