Volunteers removed invasive plant species from Central Park at an event over the weekend to celebrate Burnaby Environment Week. Lower Mainland Green Team

Volunteers end Burnaby Environment Week with invasive plant removal at Central Park

54 community members gathered to remove invasive species like Himalayan blackberries, English holly, and English ivy from Central Park.

By Srushti Gangdev | June 14, 2022 |5:00 am

A few dozen volunteers descended on Central Park over the weekend to participate in an invasive plant removal, in an event put on by the Lower Mainland Green Team, the Rotary Club of Burnaby, and the City of Burnaby to celebrate the end of Burnaby Environment Week.

54 community members gathered Sunday afternoon, pulling out invasive species like Himalayan blackberries, common periwinkle, English holly, and English ivy.

Visitors to the park may have noticed several of those species prominently featured among the greenery next to the trails—but they’re not native to the region, and make it difficult for native species to survive.

“[These are] all plants that were intentionally planted for one reason or the other, that have now gone wild—escaped the garden fence, and are now taking over green spaces like Central Park. And so what they’ll do is actually displace the native species that are in that area,” said executive director of the Invasive Species Council of BC Gail Wallin.

“Invasive species are actually very aggressive, and will cover up that ground level like Himalayan blackberry, it will just grow over fences and tables and sheds. And actually, it makes that land unusable.”

The Lower Mainland Green Team says 28 of the volunteers, who came from all ages, backgrounds, and experience levels, had never visited Central Park before Sunday. The same number had never removed invasive plant species before.

The group says it removed nine cubic metres of invasive plants, equivalent to the volume of 56 bathtubs, across 395 square metres of Central Park’s green space.

They also picked up litter from the park, including an old muffler.

The team organizes periodic plant pulls at parks across the Lower Mainland, including one earlier this month at Burnaby’s Ron McLean Park.

Wallin told the Beacon that visitors to Central Park can help with the effort any time they’re there just by pulling up any invasive plants they happen to notice.

For instance, pulling English ivy shoots while they’re small will stop them from growing up the large evergreen trees that are so characteristic of Central Park and stunting their growth.

“English ivy can actually strangle really large trees and stop them from growing. So yes, simply pulling English ivy off the trees, so it’s not strangling it will help those trees survive,” she said.

Volunteers with Lower Mainland Green Team hard at work at Central Park removing invasive plant species. Lower Mainland Green Team
Volunteers with Lower Mainland Green Team hard at work at Central Park removing invasive plant species. Lower Mainland Green Team

Hobby gardeners have a role to play too. Wallin said that many people in the Central Park area maintain small gardens on their balconies, often with hanging pots.

Many hanging baskets that you can buy have invasive species in them, so she recommended that gardeners try and avoid arrangements with those species and make sure you know what you’re getting if you’re buying or trading plants.

“Even if you’ve got a flower arrangement, you can have invasive species that are in there. So you have to know what you’ve got. And the rule is: don’t compost any plant if you don’t know what it is,” she said.

“Because if you’re composting a lamium, or periwinkle, or baby’s breath—those are all plants that came with your arrangement that are invasive that you don’t want to be spreading across your garden when you move that composting into new areas.”

Wallin also recommended gardeners look at the PlantWise program run by the Invasive Species Council of BC, which can help identify commonly sold or traded invasive species and recommend responsible alternatives instead.

“[Alternatives] that are good for the bees, you know, that are low fire risk, etc. Take a look at PlantWise, find out what you’re gardening, know what you’re growing, and make sure you’re not growing invasive and be part of the solution.”

Srushti Gangdev

Reporter at Burnaby Beacon

Latest Articles

June 24, 2022

Joshua Boden will spend at least 14 years in prison for murdering Kimberly Hallgarth

The former BC Lions player was convicted last year of killing his ex-girlfriend in 2009.

June 24, 2022

Burnaby’s heat response plan is a start, but health and climate experts want more

Experts appreciate changes the city has made since last summer, but call for greater communication and more tangible support for the city's most vulnerable citizens.