Anyone with a smartphone can now help stop the spread of invasive plants in B.C., thanks to an innovative application developed by Hipwood Digital, the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia and the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
The "Report-a-Weed BC" app is free to download and is available for both iPhones and Android phones. The easy-to-use interface allows users to submit reports on invasive plant sightings anywhere in B.C., upload photos of plants they find, and view previously logged sightings on a Google map.
Invasive plants are plants that are not native to a particular ecosystem. They have the potential to displace long established native species and cause significant economic or environmental damage. They also may reduce biodiversity, increase soil erosion, alter soil chemistry and adversely affect commercial crops.
The Report-a-Weed BC app allows users to:
* Browse through a list of invasive plants (searchable by the plant's common name, Latin name or flower colour) or scroll through a photo library of known invasive plants.
* Attach their own photos of suspected invasive plants or attach a photo of one of 202 listed species.
* View an interactive map of B.C. that displays details about the 500 most recent submissions.
* Use the app online or offline (in areas with no cell phone coverage, users can click "Submit" as usual and the report will be sent as soon as cell coverage resumes).
Invasive plant specialists from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations will review all reports submitted through the smartphone app and co-ordinate any necessary follow-up activity with regional weed committees, local governments and landowners.
Regional weed committees, the Invasive Species Council of B.C., governments and stakeholders work together to raise public awareness of invasive plants, survey existing populations and treat high-priority sites to control their spread.
The involvement of smartphone users will assist landowners and invasive plant managers with early detection and rapid response efforts, and enhance their knowledge of how invasive plant species are distributed in B.C.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson -
"The B.C. government is committed to preserving wildlife habitat and protecting the interests of B.C.'s agriculture and ranching industries. This new tool will allow British Columbians to have an immediate impact by identifying where invasive plants species have become established. We look forward to their increased involvement in this important issue."
Tom Wells, chair, Invasive Species Council of British Columbia -
"The Invasive Species Council of British Columbia works closely with its partner agencies and members of the public to limit the spread of invasive species in our province. We are excited that this smartphone app will let more people make proactive contributions to that ongoing effort."
* The new Report-a-Weed BC app can be downloaded for free.
* The iPhone version is available through the Apple iTunes Store: http://itunes.apple.com/app/report-a-weed/id547471331?mt=8
* The Android version is available through Google Market at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hipwood.reportaweed
* Some of the most intrusive plants in B.C. are orange and yellow (non-native) hawkweeds, garlic mustard, cordgrasses and knotweed.
* Some other targeted species are knapweed, giant hogweed, black henbane, blueweed, common tansy, tansy ragwort, hoary alyssum, field
scabious, leafy spurge, purple loosestrife, yellow flag iris, Himalayan balsam and Scotch broom.
* The Invasive Plant Program tracks known locations of invasive plant
species and responds quickly to eradicate newly discovered invasive plant species before they become established in B.C.
* Invasive Alien Plant Program: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/plants/index.htm
* Invasive Species Council of British Columbia: http://www.bcinvasives.ca