The Invasive Plant Association of Wisconsin (IPAW) is an organization comprised of agencies, organizations, and individuals concerned with the spread of invasive plants and their impacts on natural ecosystems. Invasive plants invade native plant communities and wild areas, and displace or replace native vegetation, thereby threatening the entire native ecosystem.
Both a weed and an invasive plant are “plants out of place,” but an invasive plant encroaches into forests, roadsides, and prairies. Invasive plants are so much more ominous than weeds because they can and do destroy the natural diversity of native vegetation. Ironically, many invasive plants get their foothold through well-meaning gardeners who introduce the species as a lovely accent to their gardens.
However, many of these plants come from foreign lands and do not have the natural controls that a native plant has. Soon the non-native plant takes over – first the garden and then, by propagating via the wind, through deep-set runners and by the cooperation of willing birds carrying the seeds, more distant places.
The threat of invasive plants affects everyone who plants a garden, manages forest or crop land, or cares about the natural resources of Wisconsin. Endangered, threatened and rare plant and animal species are especially at risk because they often occur in small populations that make them particularly vulnerable to competition from more aggressive, invasive plants.
IPAW’s mission is to promote better stewardship of the natural resources of Wisconsin by advancing the understanding of invasive plants and encouraging the control of their spread. The goal of the organization is to restore natural communities and vegetation. There are several committees and groups that work to educate and organize people to defend against the spread of invasive plants.
IPAW is a membership organization and any individual or institution interested in membership may apply. Agronomists, horticulturalists, environmental scientists and non-scientific people who want to make a difference in the spread of invasive plants are welcome. Members can join a committee, volunteer for activities or lend much needed supporting through membership fees. There is also a listserv through Yahoo! Groups (groups.yahoo.com/neo/group/IPAW/info) for communicating about a wide variety of topics related to invasive plants.
For more information about how you can become informed or involved, see the IPAW website (below).
– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison
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