Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) & Water Lettuce (Pistia stratiotes) : Management Plan

Written by: Andrew Base, Ashley Prince, and Reid Van Kuren

Management Plan

This management plan provides detailed information regarding the most effective management option for water hyacinth and water lettuce that involves the least risk to the environment and the general population. Based on the benefits outweighing the costs, it is determined that the physical removal of the water hyacinth and water lettuce is the most effective option for control, as long as a small, but closed, market can be built around its removal. In this case, a closed market is a market in which profit is solely made for the progress of the management strategy. This approach is the most viable method, since much of the removed water hyacinth and water lettuce can be sold as feed for livestock like cows and pigs, or even be used as a biofuel additive (Mishima, 2008). Money generated from the sales of this plant can be used as a way to provide more funding towards management resources such as labour and equipment. This system does not create an increasing demand for the product, and would therefore does not necessarily create another market for the plant. If the plant was sold for potential medicinal properties after it’s harvested from targeted sites, there could possibility be an increase in demand for the product and would therefore contribute to the spread of water hyacinth and water lettuce in Southern Ontario. Previously, in Ontario (Azan, 2015) and in the southern United States (Langand, 1998), the physical approach has been implemented and seems to be the main tactic used my organization in North America.

In addition to this approach, the issue must also be addressed from a different angle. Not only do water hyacinth and water lettuce need to be removed from bodies of water in southern Ontario, but the driving factor for its introduction to water ways must be diminished. Seeing that water hyacinth and water lettuce are most commonly introduced to the natural environments via decorative ponds or aquariums, a public education plan must be set in place in order to engage communities in the prevention of its propagation and to encourage pond and aquarium business’ to stop selling both plants. Programs such as volunteer based river clean-up or invasive species bio-blitzes could be organized in partnership with organizations such as the OFAH of Ducks Unlimited. To add to these programs, pubic education nights and conferences can be hosted, along with efforts to build public pressure upon local governments to take action against the newly emerging invasive species. Strong social media can also reach many targeted interest groups across a broad platform.

Legal Factors

There are no laws conflicting with the physical removal of the invasive species, as it does not negatively impact the quality of the water that the invasive species resides in. Though in order to put more pressure on local and provincial governments to take action, the Clean Water Act (S.O. 2006, Chapter22) can be used as a stepping-stone towards involving communities in the management project. This act requires communities to monitor existing and possible threats to waterways, and to implement necessary actions to diminish the threat. It allows for public participation on all levels, in order for everyone to get the opportunity to play a role in the planning process of any mitigation or prevention plan against the invasion of water hyacinth and water lettuce for example. Finally, and most importantly, the Clean Water Act of Ontario requires that all plans and projects must be “based on sound science” (Clean Water Act, 2006). In turn, the Provincial government of Ontario will have more reason to add water hyacinth and water lettuce to the Invasive Species Act’s list of invasive species.

Water bodies in Ontario are mostly considered crown land managed by the ministry of natural resources under the Public Lands Act. The Public Lands Act (PLA) applies to the use of provincial crown land and shore lands, excluding the use of federal lands and water bodies, such as, the Trent Severn. The removal of invasive species come with rules; Ontario Regulations 239/13(section 9), and the Endangered Species Act (MNR. 2016). These rules include that the species is on your property limits, only remove the invasive species, and proper disposal of plant. In the case of chemical removal or biological removal a work permit would need to be granted under the PLA. Rules to be followed are also found under the PLA.

Potential Challenges and Solutions

Even if this management project may seem simple and small in scale compared to other efforts focusing on more prominent invasive species, such as Giant Hogweed and Asian Carp, this plan still faces many challenges. Most importantly, the issue of funding poses as the largest hurdle in this project. Without any form of income or outside support, no action can be taken against the spread of water lettuce in the waterways of southern Ontario. Secondly, industry that supplies water lettuce is to root cause of its current spread throughout natural water bodies in our region. Actions must be put in place in order to limit the sale of, or at least discourage these industries from selling water lettuce. Finally, in order to highlight the importance of the current issue facing water lettuce in southern Ontario, public knowledge and education programs must be put in place. This will prove to be one of the most important factors that will allow us to reduce the dispersal of the invasive aquatic plant. The following table highlights the issues, their challenges and the potential solutions that are suggested in order to effectively coordinate a management strategy against the spread of water hyacinth and water lettuce.

Table 3. Funding, public awareness of the issue and the water lettuce industry are the most prominent issues facing the management of water lettuce in Ontario.

Issues Challenges Solutions
Funding The challenge is finding the funding to pay for labour, equipment and other necessary resources required for managing the invasive species. -Selling collected water hyacinth and water lettuce as biofuel or even as live stock feed.

-Running volunteer and community based programs in order to deal with the issue in a cost effective manner.

-Gain support from local government, in order to receive funding.

-Apply for grants.

The “Water” plant Industry The decorative pond and aquarium industry is largely the reason why water hyacinth and water lettuce has spread so much in southern Ontario. The sale of this plant is not under any form of control. -Educate the general public about the issue.

– Social pressure from communities for stores to halt the sale of water hyacinth and water lettuce may be effective on the small scale.

-Lobbying to add the plant on the Prohibited List of the Invasive Species Act would have the largest impact.

Lack of Public Knowledge Reaching out to a broad range of individuals may prove difficult. Engaging communities may be even more difficult to accomplish -Hold conferences

-Organize shoreline clean-ups and bioblitzes

-Develop a strong media presence.

-Develop partnerships with organizations such as Ducks unlimited or OFAH.

Conclusion

The physical removal of water hyacinth and water lettuce paired with the establishment of a public education program is the ideal method for addressing the spread of water hyacinth and water lettuce. This multi-faceted approach tackles the current issues that water ways in Southern Ontario face in regards to water hyacinth and water lettuce, and also addresses the main source of the spread of the plant. Since this plan involves sound scientific research, community involvement and sound ecological practices, this management plan will ideally be successful upon its undertaking.

References

Azan, S., Bardecki, M., & Laursen, A. E. (2015). Invasive aquatic plants in the aquarium and ornamental              pond industries: a risk assessment for southern Ontario ( Canada). Weed Research55(3), 249-          259. doi:10.1111/wre.12135

Baker, H. (2015, February 2). NOAA National Center for Research on Aquatic Invasive Species (NCRAIS).           Retrieved February 18, 2017, from               https://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/greatlakes/FactSheet.aspx?SpeciesID=15&Potential=Y&Type=2      &HUCNumber=

Cilliers, C.J. (1991). Biological control of water lettuce, Pistia stratiotes (Araceae), in South Africa.          Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment 37(1-3): 225-229.

DMCA Complaint. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from        http://www.varsitytutors.com/act_science_28-problem-32660

EDDMapS. 2017. Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System. The University of Georgia – Center for            Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health. Available online at http://www.eddmaps.org/; last      accessed January 26, 2017.

Harley, K.L.S., R.C. Kassulke, D.P.A. Sands, and M.D. Day. (1990). Biological control of water     lettuce, Pistia stratiotes (Araceae) by Neohydronomus affinis (Coleoptera: Curculionidae).   Entomophaga 35(3): 363-374.

Langeland, K.A., and K.C. Burks. 1998. Identification and biology of non-native plants in Florida’s natural           areas, p. 20. University of Florida. Gainesville, FL.

 

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