The removal of “Canada’s worst invasive plant” from the Rouge Marsh shows how Parks Canada’s restoration and conservation efforts are improving the ecological integrity in this area of the park, which features a level of native biodiversity not found anywhere else in Toronto.

Parks Canada staff and Indigenous partners has removed dense stands of European Common Reed (Phragmites australis australis) from the marsh wetlands near Rouge Beach.

A crew from the Invasive Phragmites Control Centre along with Parks Canada staff and Indigenous partners has removed dense stands of European Common Reed (Phragmites australis australis) from the marsh wetlands near Rouge Beach. The tall perennial grass, native to Eurasia and now found throughout much of Ontario, grows aggressively, crowding out native vegetation and leaving less open water and food for wildlife. In addition to mitigating habitat loss, removing the invasive plants helps to stop their spread as a result of other initiatives being planned as part of Parks Canada’s Rouge Beach Improvement Project.

In the first step of the removal process, an amphibious machine cut the phragmites below the surface of the water, drowning them. Herbicide, approved for use by Health Canada and used in other ecologically sensitive areas across the country, was applied by backpack sprayer to phragmites stands on dry land. Later, the crew returned to cut down the remaining standing phragmites, leaving them to become wildlife habitat and to naturally decompose and cycle nutrients back into the marsh.

During the project, there was considerable interaction with members of the public, including owners of land adjacent to the marsh. According to Juliana Skuza, Resource Conservation Officer, Rouge National Urban Park, the interactions were “100% positive.”

“Everyone was so excited to see the machine in action and commended us for taking action,” said Skuza.

Since 2017, phragmites management has been ongoing in some areas of what is now Rouge National Urban Park. Parks Canada's goal is to completely eradicate the invasive plant from the entire area of the park south of Highway 401.

Parks Canada regularly informs the public on how to address invasive species, and park staff will receive herbicide treatment training in order to assist with removal efforts. Volunteer projects to eliminate invasive species also occur in the Rouge, and park residents are vital sources of information on park ecology.

If you see invasive species in Rouge National Urban Park, please inform Parks Canada staff by contacting 416-264-2020 or rouge@pc.gc.ca.

Source: Invasive Phragmites Control Centre