Thursday, June 16, 2016

Weeds and the Castle Crown

Leafy spurge, Waldemarpaetz photo, Wikimedia commons

Dr. Linda Hall, Gladstone Valley: Local agriculture, weed and conservation networks, brought their complex weed management challenges to a group of scientists from 7 countries in the Castle-Crown region.

The AndinA group of scientists focusing on invasive plants tapped into local networks to ground truth a client-centered approach to address weed problems. The Castle area has complex weed problems due to disturbance, multiple corridors for weed movement, and the importance of the foothill forests and native grasslands to the local communities. Dr. Bruce Maxwell from Montana State University (Bozeman) said “We feel privileged to be here to appreciate the environment and the enthusiasm and commitment of the local communities”.

Weeds including leafy spurge and hawkweeds have the potential to impact agriculture and forest productivity and biodiversity of the area. “Weeds require people to work together because they do not respect boundaries,” said Dr. Sonia Graham from the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia). The Castle Region of SW Alberta was used as a showcase of the complexity of weed and conservation issues. This model weed management system will be further studied by the participating researchers in their own countries, with the intent of potentially applying the lessons learned to similar, complex environments and weed scenarios.

Through AndinA, scientists from a range of disciplines including weed, soil, biology, ecology, geography and sociology participated in field trips to appreciate the local environment, local communities, and the causes and impacts of weed problems. They were also able to connect with local ranchers, municipal and provincial weed regulators, Castle Crown conservation groups, the Alberta Invasive Species Council, Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and local consultants. These scientists witnessed local communities’ current efforts and successes in weed management through the integration of grazing, chemical and biological control, and just plain, persistent eradication of weeds through hand-pulling. Kelly Cooley, the owner of CoolPro Solutions, Environmental Consulting Services, and Southern Alberta Weed Coordinator Partnership, commented “the AndinA group's interdisciplinary approach supports my commitment to assist landowners in preventing and managing invasive weed problems. I value them (AndinA) as a resource for my future work.”

Dr. Linda Hall
Professor, Weed Science and Environmental Biosafety of Transgenic Crops
Agricultural Food and Nutritional Science
University of Alberta


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