Can We Identify Where in Urban Settings Invasive Plants Are More Likely to be Found?

Can We Identify Where in Urban Settings Invasive Plants Are More Likely to be Found? photo

In urban areas, invasive plants are mostly found in greenspaces (i.e., parks, gardens, natural areas). Management of invasive plants includes multiple approaches such as preventing spread, detecting new invaders early, monitoring, and managing infestations. Prevention strategies are more cost-effective than treatments, especially when land managers understand where invasive plants are most likely to occur. Therefore, understanding differences in where invasive plants occur and identifying areas at higher risk of invasion, are important in guiding future programs. 

A study conducted in Metro Vancouver aimed to identify areas at risk of invasive plants using greenspace type, socio-economic, topographic, and land use variables. The study focused on four common invasive plants that are prioritized for management in Metro Vancouver: English ivy, knotweed species, Himalayan blackberry, and yellow archangel. The main objectives were to: 

  1. Test for differences in species occurrence among three greenspace types: park & recreation, natural areas, and leisure facilities (such as community centres);
  2. Examine the relationships between where the plants are growing and socio-economic, topographic, and land-use features of these greenspace types. 

The results suggested that invasive plants were more likely to be present in natural areas compared to either park & recreation or leisure facilities. Greenspaces located within wealthier neighbourhoods and/or those with higher population density experienced a higher chance of having invasive plants.

The results of this research provide managers, practitioners, and researchers with statistical evidence about the types of greenspaces and some corresponding features that should be considered in future prevention and management programs for invasive species.

The study has been published in the Journal Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

Nguyet-Anh Nguyen is a former graduate student with the UBC Forest Biometrics Lab, co-supervised by Drs Bianca Eskelson and Michael Meitner. For more information about this topic contact Nguyet-Anh Nguyen at