Invasive Species Management

What is an invasive species?

Invasive Species are plants and animals that are not native to our local ecosystems (e.g. Knotweed or Bullfrogs). Invasive species have the ability to establish quickly in new areas and spread rapidly due to the lack of natural predators or prolific reproduction strategies.

Why are invasive species a problem? 

Next to habitat loss, invasive species are the biggest threat to biodiversity. Invasive species can impact:

  • Human health and safety
  • Our economy (Property values, industry, infrastructure and recreational opportunities)
  • Our animals (pets and livestock)
  • Our environment (ecosystems, wildlife and biodiversity)

How is North Cowichan managing invasive species?

The Municipality treats invasive plants on municipal lands on a priority basis so they do not pose a risk to our residents, pets, local wildlife or infrastructure.  Staff also work with  property owners to control invasive plant species that are listed in the Nuisance Abatement and Cost Recovery Bylaw (Species listed below) when they are found on private lands.  The Municipal Forestry Program also treats invasive plants to reduce fire hazards, improve sightlines along roads and help juvenile trees get established within the Municipal Forest Reserve.

Which species should I watch for in North Cowichan? 

Although many invasive species exist on Vancouver Island, North Cowichan is actively managing  and/or monitoring the following plants on public and private lands:

What about Scotch Broom, Blackberry and Ivy ?

These plants are prime examples of the damage invasive species can do to local ecosystems if left unchecked for too long  Unfortunately, they have become so well established across Vancouver Island that complete eradication is now unlikely with current resources and funding.  These species are therefore ranked lower in priority for treatment in comparison to plants that are either new to the area, toxic or present human health risks.  They are generally treated only when found in or adjacent to sensitive ecosystems or if other values are at risk. 

What should I do if I find invasive species on my property?

The Municipality of North Cowichan is not responsible for removing invasive plants on private property but staff can help with identifying plants and provide resources that will help you eradicate them.  The Municipality’s Nuisance Abatement and Cost Recovery Bylaw requires property owners to control the 7 invasive species listed above.  Although there are many invasive species present on Vancouver Island, only ones specifically listed as noxious weeds within the Bylaw are actively pursued and enforced by staff. The appointed weed control officer may issue a notice to owners of properties that have noxious weeds on them, in order to follow the provisions listed in the Provincial Weed Control Act and Weed Control Regulation.

Where can I learn more about invasive species?

To learn more about invasive species, how to identify them and how to help to reduce their spread, visit the Invasive Species Council of BC's Website.

What should I do if I see an invasive species? 

Do your best to accurately identify which species it is.  If you have confirmed it as an invasive species, report invasive species sightings to the provincial governmentYou can also contact staff at the Municipal Hall for help with species identification and developing appropriate management strategies.

What about weeds in cracks and crevices adjacent to my property?

If weeds growing in gutter lines, asphalt cracks, and sidewalk expansion joints are left unchecked they can damage the road and sidewalk surfaces and create a safety hazard. The Municipality's weed control program for cracks and crevices intended to reduce damage from weed growth in these areas. While the Municipality endeavours to reduce or eliminate the non-essential use of chemical pesticides on municipally owned lands, certain plant species and situations still warrant their use. Herbicide is applied directly on plants in the spring (usually around May) by qualified contractors in compliance with provincial regulations.

North Cowichan residents can contact the Operations Department at 250-746-3106 to be placed on a notification list. Residents on this list will be called in advance of herbicide applications to give them an opportunity to manually remove weeds adjacent to their property.


Last edited: February 24, 2023.