To educate trail users regarding invasive species spread, allowing for environmental engagement and preventing invasive plant colonization in sensitive habitats.
The rare Charitable Research Reserve is an urban land trust and environmental institute in Waterloo Region/Wellington, with its primary property protecting almost 1,000 acres of highly sensitive lands. This includes 24 different habitats and more than 4,000 species. Through sustainable management, ecosystems and research sites are protected while the public can enjoy over 8km of trails, extensive community gardens, and regular interpretive events. While rare endeavors to protect a diverse network of healthy, connected natural areas, it is still faced by the challenges of the urban-agricultural landscape of southern Ontario, which includes colonization by invasive plants (e.g. Garlic Mustard).
Prevention of invasive plants through the management of anthropogenic vectors has been identified as the most efficient and directly manageable phase of invasive species control. A key requirement in this effort is collaboration with the members of the public who use the property for recreation via use of the trails. Seeds and other plant materials can be inadvertently spread by hiking shoes, clothing, and pets (particularly off-leash dogs) to new areas within the property, or introduce new invasive species from elsewhere. Currently, rare has no consistent signage educating the public on responsible trail use to prevent invasive species spread. We believe that installing signage of this kind on trails could improve rare’s invasive plant prevention efforts while engaging positively with community members.