The Green Shovels Collaborative is pleased to announce a new Invasive Phragmites Control Fund, and the first call for funding proposals to support the control of aggressive invasive Phragmites australis (Common reed) in Ontario.

The Green Shovels Collaborative is a coalition of conservation organizations that share an interest in preventing and managing invasive species, and includes Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC), the Federation of Ontario Cottagers’ Associations (FOCA), the Invasive Species Centre (ISC), the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters (OFAH), and Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC). Invasive species are considered the second greatest threat to biodiversity and estimated to cause $3.6 billion in impacts to agriculture, forestry, fisheries, health care, and tourism and recreation in Ontario annually.

The Green Shovels Collaborative works to address the threat of an aggressive invasive plant called Phragmites australis (Common reed) in Ontario. Phragmites australis (Common reed) is a perennial grass from Europe and is considered one of Canada’s worst invasive species. Phragmites rapidly spreads by seed and root fragments (rhizomes) carried by wind, waves, vehicles, heavy equipment, and people. Once established, Phragmites can grow into dense monoculture stands that can extirpate other species, including species at risk, and lead to ecological dead zones. Ontario’s wetlands cannot deliver the numerous socio-ecological services they provide to us when dominated by Phragmites. Services such as flood and stormwater management, nutrient management, recreation and tourism, and natural heritage protection. Phragmites will also spread rapidly along roadsides and shorelines where it can block driver’s sight lines and affect recreational boating and marina operations. Phragmites stands can even dry out and become a significant fire hazard for Ontario communities.

“Many community groups and organizations have been ‘Phrag Fighters’ for years and are leading the way in controlling Phragmites using a variety of tools and methods,” states Sarah Rang, Executive Director at the Invasive Species Centre. Control costs increase as infestations spread across the landscape, as do the economic impacts. A recent cost-benefit analysis indicates that controlling Phragmites in Ontario could cost between $90.0 million to $109.2 million dollars if we targeted every bit of Phragmites estimated to be in the province. This may seem like a high number, but when compared to the estimated economic benefits we stand to
gain as a result of control, the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. If Phragmites was eradicated from the province, the economic benefits are estimated to be $138.9 million, plus a one-time benefit to property values of $357 million dollars. While some believe this is an underestimate of the potential benefits of control, the bottom-line is, the cost and effort to manage the spread and impacts of this aggressive invader is well worth our time and resources.

The newly announced Invasive Phragmites Control Fund has $55,000 to distribute to Ontario Phrag Fighters. This could support 6 to 10 community projects and is an excellent start toward a long-term goal. “We are pleased to be able to provide this new modest fund to help support these important efforts,” states Sarah Rang. This Fund is made possible with support from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources, and Forestry.

Interested applicants should review the Invasive Phragmites Control Fund Program Guide posted at The application deadline is Tuesday, September 14, 2021, at 11:59 p.m.

For more information and to discuss the Invasive Phragmites Control Fund, please contact:
Karen Alexander
Policy Coordinator
Invasive Species Centre

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