New Jersey bans non-native plants on state land

TRENTON, New Jersey, October 19, 2004 (ENS): New Jersey is prohibiting the planting of non-native species on state lands, and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has issued an advisory list of 20 tree species, 40 shrub species, 15 vine species, 66 herb species, and 16 grass and sedge species that are no longer welcome on public lands in New Jersey.

The list contains just a fraction of the more than 1,200 nonindigenous plants in New Jersey that have been introduced, accidentally or intentionally, mostly from Europe and Asia. Because these tend to have few natural predators or parasites on this continent, they are aggressive competitors for space and nutrients in New Jersey's natural areas.

The new policy is intended to reduce the spread of these invasive species that choke out New Jersey's natural plants and threaten wetlands and waterways, said DEP Commissioner Bradley Campbell, announcing the directive on Thursday.

"State agencies need to lead by example and stop planting invasive species on lands that we manage," said Campbell. "This is a small, but important step in our long-term struggle to address this significant threat to New Jersey's rich natural heritage."

Invasive species also threaten New Jersey's agricultural resources through lost production and marketability for agricultural products.

Campbell is ordering DEP employees, consultants and contractors not to use invasive, nonindigenous plant species in planning and implementing plantings, landscaping and land management activities such as habitat restoration and reforestation on state lands and waters.

In July 2003, the Final Report of the New Jersey Comparative Risk Project identified invasive species, including plants, insects and other organisms, as one of the top four environmental problems facing New Jersey.

Some of these species cause harm by contributing to species extinctions, altering the structure of natural plant communities, disrupting ecosystem functions, and degrading recreational opportunities.

Harmful invasive plants are spoiling open spaces such as Island Beach State Park, Rancocas State Park, and the Black River Natural Area, said Campbell.

Invasive species often form dense stands or thickets that crowd out native vegetation. Harmful invasive species not only threaten plant biodiversity but also affect wildlife that depend on the displaced native species for food.

Invasive species are now recognized as a threat to the health of biodiversity throughout the nation and the resulting ecological damage is costing millions of dollars in economic losses each year.

Earlier this year, Governor James McGreevey signed an executive order forming an Invasive Species Council charged with submitting an Invasive Species Management Plan for the state in 2005.

A report entitled An Overview of Nonindigenous Plant Species in New Jersey is available on the DEP's website at http://www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/natural/heritage/InvasiveReport.pdf.

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2004/2004-10-19-09.asp#anchor7


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