7 First Aid steps for the native bog species

Turn down the pH in here!What kind of First Aid is needed for the sphagnum bog ecosystem on the Garden City Lands? In a small way, I’m in a position to answer.

Although I wouldn’t be leading the First Aid, I happen to be familiar with the B.C. Ministry of Agiculture’s systematic approach to managing weeds. It’s expressed in the Seven Steps to Managing Your Weeds manual, which I helped create.*

I’ll list the steps and annotate them for the bog weed management need, especially re heather, Calluna vulgaris. This is a non-expert example of how it could be done.

  1. Map the management area and its resources. We could use a GPS device, Google’s satellite images as base maps, and drawing software. 
  2. Map and inventory the area for weeds. After adding a grid layer to the main base map, we might treat each square segment of the grid as a separate base map within the whole grid (the whole map of the Lands). Besides heather (and perhaps some other invasive species) in one colour, we could include threatened bog plants in a different colour. This step would begin with prototyping, using a few representative grid segments so as to refine the approach to mapping and related journaling. 
  3. Set weed management goals and objectives. A suitable goal is First Aid to halt further sphagnum bog degradation by the heather choking the native species. The objectives would be precise, measurable and realistic. 
  4. Set priorities for your weed management. For example, close threats to native species would be high priority, as would be heather moving into a new area that can be stopped before it gets established. 
  5. Select your weed management strategies. They would include precisely timed hand weeding and should include precise timing of any mowing. Eventually they could include precise water management methods, but that’s for the distant future.Possible biological control with heather beetles, Lochmaea suturalis, would not be implemented quickly but should be investigated early on. Heather beetles are not yet federally approved for release as a biological control agenda in Canada, so the wise first step would be to get the literature search and possible approval process in motion. From what I can read on the Web about Lochmaea suturalis use in New Zealand as a Scotch heather control agent, it is not significantly harmful to other plants there—even Scotch heather in gardens, since the conditions in gardens are less hospitable to the beetles than sphagnum bog conditions. At Radio New Zealand, you can listen to “Heather bio-control in Tongariro National Park.”
  6. Develop an integrated weed management plan. This is a matter of prototyping various aspects and then applying the Seven Steps advice with collaborative commitment. 
  7. Develop a monitoring program. The accurate evaluation via periodic observation would take disciplined effort, but it would also focus our effort for best impact and motivate us with proven success.

A key to success is to stick to the First Aid goal and the related objectives that are measurable, periodically measured, and adjusted for best effect.

I encourage you to read Seven Steps to Managing Your Weeds. I admit to a little bias, but you’re likely to find it to be a useful guide.


*Note: A little over ten years ago, I helped create the Seven Steps to Managing Your Weeds manual, functioning as a technical writer and mini-project leader. I was actually a university instructional development leader but helped out a related agency for the needed couple of weeks. The manual was part of a larger project with a firm launch date looming. For the manual, there was just a big pile of rough content. I was happy to make time for it, as there was a need to meet—and also it promised to be informative fun. Provincial weed specialist Roy Cranston provided expertise excellently. An excellent artist, excellent copy editor and excellent print shop filled out the team. When a group like that is focused on a goal, it’s amazing how they can quickly turn chaos into an excellent result, much like the First Aid team I envision for the sphagnum bog ecosystem of the Garden City Lands.


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