Impede the Reed Project

Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Have you ever looked along a roadside or shoreline and noticed a tall, leafy grass growing over your head? Chances are, you were looking at an exotic plant known as phragmites (Phragmites australis subsp. australis). Not only is this plant considered one of Canada’s worst invasive species, its putting the breath-taking landscapes of Georgian Bay Islands National Park in danger.

Impede the Reed is Georgian Bay Islands National Park’s unique four-year project (2019-2023) dedicated to stopping the spread of phragmites along the Beausoleil Island shoreline and reversing the harmful impacts of this invasive species.

Getting to Know Phragmites

 On Beausoleil Island, phragmites stalks tower over park staff as they map the outlines of a particularly tall population. 

Also known as European common reed, phragmites has become one of the most widespread and damaging invasive plants found within North America. In Ontario, you’ll find this species growing from one end of the province to the other, except in the northernmost regions. Phragmites is well adapted for aquatic environments and this plant prefers to grow near shorelines, beaches, ditches, wetlands and roadsides.

Phragmites is easy to spot, once you know what to look for. Use these features to help you correctly identify this plant:

  • Tall, rough stalks that may grow up to 3-5m high
  • Abundant blue-green foliage
  • Large, feathery flowers that may range from purple to golden in color
  • Brown, standing dead stalks during the winter

As phragmites spreads throughout the environment, it grows so thickly that all other life is quickly choked out and replaced by a monoculture of towering reeds. Within these areas, animals struggle to navigate through the tangle of stems as landscapes become altered from their natural state. At Georgian Bay Islands National Park, phragmites is considered the park’s number one ecological stressor. This invasive species is a direct threat to the park’s renowned wildlife and stunning shorelines. As a result, phragmites is a priority for control.

What’s Being Done?

Georgian Bay Islands National Park is playing our part to contribute to the overall eradication of invasive phragmites in Ontario. Through the Impede the Reed project, all phragmites populations within the park have been mapped and a plan has been created to determine the best course of action to remove this plant from park shorelines. Using current high water levels to our advantage, manual and mechanical treatment techniques are being used to cut and drown phragmites plants. As the phragmites is removed, areas will be restored back to their natural state.

Get Involved!

Want to help fight invasive phragmites on Beausoleil Island? Check out our social media pages for project updates and upcoming events!

Links and Resources

Looking for more information about invasive species and other Parks Canada activities? Check out these links to stay informed:

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