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Invasives and climate change

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Were you aware that Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has developed a plan addressing climate change in the commonwealth? The 74-page document published in June 2018, “Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation Plan,” contains the position statement, “Climate change is real and is impacting the commonwealth’s ecological and recreational resources.”

Although the spiky flowers of purple loosestrife contribute an element of beauty along regional waterways, this non-native and persistent plant has all the elements that define invasive species—they grow aggressively, spread quickly and displace native vegetation.

Developed with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, the plan notes that Pennsylvania is experiencing “higher temperatures, increased precipitation, higher numbers of large storm events, decreased snow cover and changing distributions of some plants and animals.” It further describes climate change as “a threat multiplier, magnifying the impacts of other environmental stressors such as invasive species, habitat fragmentation and deer overpopulation.”

According to DCNR, many invasive species benefit from some of the impacts of climate change, such as warmer and wetter weather conditions, extended growing seasons, and forests and habitats under stress from changing climates. As of January 2019, there are 396 invasive species of plants, invertebrates, fish, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, birds and more identified in an online database

(www.paimapinvasives.org) coordinated by the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program. The tool is used to track invasive species, thereby assisting natural resource professionals and citizen scientists in the location and management of invasive species.

In developing the state’s climate -change plan, staff members from all DCNR bureaus identified the greatest climate change vulnerabilities as well as strategies to address them. The plan outlines 123 action steps to support the commonwealth’s resilience to potential impacts from climate change. Visit www.bit.ly/climatechangeplanTRR to learn more.  

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