Invasive crown vetch can crowd out healthy native plants in Kentucky and in other areas of the country.
Like playground bullies who clear an area with their rough-and-tumble approach, invasive species--plant, animal, insect or pathogen--spread aggressively outside of their natural range to disrupt the balance of the world around them.
In nature, these typically fast-growing resource hogs can cause devastating consequences. For example, in the case of plants, invasive species can even change soil chemistry, light availability and fire frequency, making it harder for natives to maintain a foothold.
The Nature Conservancy understands how detrimental invasive species can be to native species, local economies and conservation efforts. That is why controlling invasive species is a priority in Kentucky, where our staff addresses the threat in several ways:
· Monitor nature preserves for early detection and prevention.
· Eradicate invasive species from an area when there is an infestation.
· Restore native habitat to its original state, if needed.
In most cases, the process of removing invasive species and restoring native habitat can take years and only with regular monitoring in place.
In Kentucky, the Conservancy leads the way in combating an invasive pest threatening large stands of Eastern hemlocks which shade mountain streams, and support salamanders, birds, mammals, aquatic insects and fish. At the Bad Branch Nature Preserve, the Conservancy has treated thousands of trees for hemlock wooly adelgid, an insect native to Asia that threatens hemlock forests throughout eastern North America. This work, which covers 250 acres, represents the largest project of its type in Kentucky and goes farther than similar efforts around the nation.