The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society (OASISS) has been actively participating in prevention, detection and management of invasive plants in the Okanagan-Similkameen since 1996. OASISS addresses invasive species and their pathways of spread by prioritizing management areas and species through multi-stakeholder cooperative coordination, and is actively involved in public education and outreach initiatives and community stewardship programs that involve on-the-ground action.
The Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society will deliver a second year of an ‘Invasive-Free Certification Program’ for landscapers, horticulturalists and earth-moving companies to help with habitat conservation and reduce the introduction, spread and establishment of invasive species in the South Okanagan. Invasive species are typically non-native species that have been introduced to British Columbia without their natural predators or diseases that would normally help keep them in check in their native habitats. Without their natural enemies, these invaders are able to rapidly out-compete native plants, ornamental species and agricultural crops.
Human development alters biologically important and sensitive landscapes that are valued for biodiversity when invasive plants are introduced, spread and then established and it makes habitat conservation more challenging. The program will promote invasive plant prevention and management into the practices of horticulture and landscape companies serving the South Okanagan through two invasive-free certification workshops and materials that highlight best management practices to avoid and minimize invasive plant impacts during construction, development and landscaping.
The benefits to this program will be seen throughout the region as invasive species can significantly reduce the quality and quantity of crops, increase the risk of wildfire, erosion, and can reduce land values. Bylaws also legally mandate landowners in the RDOS area to address and control noxious weeds, this program will educate those who provide landscaping and horticultural support to private and commercial landowners.
The project was approved by the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen Board and $20,144 was allocated from the South Okanagan Conservation Fund in 2019. The South Okanagan Conservation Fund dollars match funding from other sources as well as in-kind contributions. The project is expected to complete by February 15, 2020.