Establishment of the Prairie Region Invasive Noxious Weed Survey and Mapping System

Funded through Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program, Environment Canada.

In 2006, the Rural Development Institute received approval under the Invasive Alien Species Partnership Program (IASPP), Environment Canada for the establishment of an invasive noxious weed survey and mapping system for the Prairie region.  This project is aimed at achieving three overarching goals. Firstly, the project will build and enhance a weed survey inventory and mapping system for the Prairie Region that can be used by and is accessible to RMs, organizations, government agencies and individuals.  Secondly, the project will help encourage the sharing of resources and information across the Prairie Region and link with the database proposed under the Action Plan for Invasive Alien Terrestrial Plants and Plant Pests.  Thirdly, the proposal is aimed at helping provincial organizations and agencies build capacity at the provincial and local levels.

Weed surveying and mapping are necessary to accurately identify pathways, delineate land, understand the biology of the invasive weeds, and develop, implement and evaluate weed management plans.  This project builds on the initial efforts of the Rural Development Institute, through a Greencover Canada Technical Assistance Project on leafy spurge, to develop a platform and framework for a prairie region weed survey database.  The ‘lessons learned’ from RDI’s work to date indicates that (a) no comprehensive, standardized and sustained database of noxious weeds in the prairie region currently exists in any single agency or location; that (b) a tangible product i.e. map of infestation has a considerable impact on helping to identify pathways and levels of infestation; that (c) mapping and monitoring are necessary components of effective weed management plans; and that (d) there is a strong desire for weed management plans but a considerable range of resources and expertise.

This proposal is aimed at addressing these lessons learned by using the framework developed as part of the Greencover Canada project to (1) expand the database, (2) enhance the functionality to include interactive, user-friendly mapping system that accommodates all levels of resources and expertise; and (3) provide workshops and training opportunities to other organizations from across Western Canada to use the database and weed mapping survey.

Karen Rempel, Research Affiliate with the Rural Development Institute will manage the project with input from a pan-Western working group of representatives from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.  In late 2006, a representative from British Columbia joined the working group.  A major partner in the project is the Canada Rural Economy Research Lab at the University of Saskatchewan. Over the two year period the overall value of the project is estimated at more than $100,000.  In a related activity, Rempel is also helping with several rural municipalities and the Grasslands National Park in southwestern Saskatchewan to develop a regional weed management plan.