Provincial funding of $850,000 will help Invasive Species Centre prevent new pests from arriving and spreading in Canada.
Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano made the funding announcement Friday afternoon at the Queen Street East-based centre that was formed in 2011 by Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Forest Service and Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
“The big thing is preventing new invasive species from arriving in Canada,” partnership and science manager David Nisbet told The Sault Star.
Invasive Species Centre teams up with partners and stakeholders to do training, monitoring and nixing current pest populations.
Training is being done on oak wilt protection. The disease attacks oak trees and causes leaves to wilt. Oak wilt disease is in Michigan and is “really close” to the Ontario border, said Nisbet.
Oak trees are “very important” to wildlife and is a foundation species in many forests in central and southern Ontario. Oak leaves that fall to the ground put important nutrients into the soil, said Nisbet.
The loss of oak trees could be “devastating” to forests and the Canadian economy, with oak being used, for example, to make furniture.
Asian longhorned beetles are another pest concern. The beetle, found previously in Toronto, attacks maple trees. Its presence could have “major implications” on Canada’s maple syrup industry, said Nisbet. Invasive Species Centre is working with Canadian Food Inspection Agency to respond, and eradicate, Asian longhorned beetles.
The provincial dollars will also help cover costs to launch projects, develop materials, such as pest management practices for landowners, deliver workshops and events and eradication of invasive species.
“Prevention is the most cost effective way to manage the species,” said Nisbet.
One dollar of prevention saves three dollars in long-term management costs once a pest is in Canada.
“The old saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it’s the same thing with invasive species,” said Nisbet. “If we can stop the species from arriving, then we don’t have to spend the money on long-term management costs.”
Invasive Species Centre does “vital work” to protect natural resources, said Romano.
“We know that invasive species pose a very real risk and threat to our environment and to Ontario’s lakes and rivers and our economy,” he said.
Invasive species result in “staggering costs” to Ontario’s economy and environment, said Romano.