Note: The two photos on this page are the "before" and "after" photos for this project.
Educational Objectives: To Learn about invasive species: How to identify them, where they come from, what damage they cause to forests, and how to control them. This is a great for learning about plant biology.
Appropriate ages of participants: Ages 11 and up.
Inspiration for this Instructable: Our middle son is contributing this instructable. He performed an invasive species control project in our New England community. This project served as his Eagle Scout Leadership Project and also as his Invasive Species Control Project for hisWilliam F. Hornaday Badge. He wants to use this Instructable Guide to educate others about invasive species and show them to how to plan and perform a similar project. So if a 14-year-old boy can plan, organize, and direct this project, so can you!
Here is the link to a YouTube video that highlights this project:
Step 1: Supplies
- 2 or 3 Weed wrenches
Note: We borrowed weed wrenches from members of our Town's Conservation Committee
Step 2: Determine Common Invasives in Your Community Forests
While looking for a project that would help the environment, I noticed that the undergrowth of many forests in my community are completely overgrown with invasive species. The most common invasives in my community’s forests are European Buckthorn and Honeysuckle Bush.
Step 3: Identify a Property for Your Project
After talking to our Town Planner and looking at several conservation areas in my community, I chose one that I think that I will be able to provide the most impact toward restoring the forest undergrowth. It was not completely overgrown with invasives, and it would allow for the manual pulling of the invasives. The invasives primarily covered an approximately 700 square foot area. This property has a pond. Often it is difficult to get permission to perform environmental projects near wet lands. However, our Town’s Conservation Committee along with our Town Planner were eager to approve this project.
Step 4: Identifying Invasive Species: Buckthorn
The most common invasives in my community’s forests are European Buckthorn and Bush Honeysuckle.
Buckthorn has white spots on its grey stems. It has dark berries. It is one of the last bushes or trees to have its leaves turn in the fall. These aspects of this bush help it invade forests. The berries do not provide much nutritional value for birds and act as a diuretic for birds—thus the seeds are spread.
Step 5: Identifying Invasive Species: Bush Honeysuckle
Step 6: Removing the Invasives From the Property
1. Invasives with stems with diameters less than a half an inch
could be pulled by volunteers wearing work gloves. We made sure that we pulled as much of the roots as we could.
2. Invasives with stems with diameters between a half an inch and 2 inches
needed a weed wrench. It was not difficult to find volunteers to work the weed wrench.
(See step 9 for instructions on how to use a weed wrench.)
3. Invasives with stems with diameters greater than 2 inches
can be pulled out by tying a chain to the tree and pulling them out with a jeep. This should only be attempted by adults and only on properties that can be driven on.
Note: Since it was not prudent to drive on the wetland property that I chose for my project, Invasives with stems with diameters greater than 2 inches were simply marked with surveyors’ tape. These are going to be cut with a chain saw by an adult. The Town will then hire a professional to apply State approved herbacide to the stumps.
Step 7: How to Use a Weed Wrench
2. Close jaws around based of the stem close to the ground. Pull back on weed wrench and pull invasive out of the ground. If you are pulling from soft ground, place the foot of the weed wrench in the "wooden shoe" so that it will be less likely to sink into the soft soil.
Note: Sometimes it takes two volunteers to pull out a large or deeply rooted invasive.
Step 8: Invasive Removal Using Herbicides
The Town applied and got the necessary state permit. The tree-like invasives were cut with chain saws by an adults wearing protective gear. The Town hired a professional who then applied state-approved herbicides to approximately 200 cut stems and stumps This phase took 30 man hours of work.
The first photo shows the professional herbicidist applying a blue-colored state approved herbicide to a stump.
The second photo shows the stump with the herbicide on it. Notice that the blue has now turned to green as the herbicide soaks into the sap of the tree.
Step 9: Compost Piles
Step 10: Completed Project
What about regrowth?
Because it is likely that some berries have already been naturally planted, it is necessary to revisit the site yearly to pull any “baby invasives” that may have sprouted.