National Invasive Species Awareness Week 2023 (Recap)

Conservation groups around the world collaborate each year to educate, advocate, and activate for National Invasive Species Awareness Week!

This year, National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) was February 20-26, 2023. NISAW is an international event to raise awareness about invasive species, the threat that they pose, and what can be done to prevent their spread. You may think that “invasives” refers to all those “weeds” that take over a yard, but invasive species are damaging and come in various forms, including creatures on land, water, and air, as well as plants and trees.

Invasive plant species can have detrimental effects on our urban forest. For #NISAW2023, Trees Atlanta focused our attention to trees (naturally). Here’s a recap of our week on social media (@treesatlanta). We hope you find the resources mentioned below useful in your learning journey to protect our urban forests by helping to reduce invasive plants species where you can.

Continue to educate yourself with online resources, taking classes with us, or learning through hands-on volunteering opportunities.

What is an Invasive Species?


February 20-26 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week! Trees Atlanta’s Forest Restoration team focuses on improving the condition of our urban forests by removing invasive plants that spread and have grown out of control in various urban greenspaces. Invasive species are a major threat to the health and longevity of mature trees and urban forests.

An ecosystem is a complex community of organisms, its physical environment, and how it interacts. Native species are indigenous to a given region or ecosystem and have evolved within its ecosystem over thousands of years. Non-native species appear either purposefully or accidentally into an area; some are regarded as invasive because they cause environmental harm to the ecosystem in which they are introduced. For example, a key source of invasive plants is actually through the commercial nursery industry. Plants that are introduced for their exotic beauty or “favorable” characteristics, like being evergreen when natives go dormant, can become unintended threats. A classic example is kudzu in the south; others are less notorious but similarly damaging, like Chinese privet which is sold as hedges. Both spread aggressively and are extremely invasive in our area.

You may have noticed that many of the plants that are invasive in Georgia are from southeast Asia. These non-native plants are particularly successful here because we have a similar climate, precipitation levels, and growing conditions as their native growing regions. Yet when imported, they often lack natural floral and fauna that keep them in check which result in an unhealthy dominance that can outcompete our native species. In a competition for sunlight and space with native plants, invasive species can have damaging effects in our local ecosystems.

Aggressively growing invasive species require human intervention to remove and control their spread. You can learn how to identify the most common invasive plant species in our area through self-lead learning using our online resources, as well as getting hands on practice by joining us at our Forest Restoration projects. You can also choose to plant native species when adding to your landscape. In addition to weekly projects found on our project calendar, mark your calendar for our annual Conserve the 4-0-Forest restoration projects scheduled for April 21 and 22, 2023!

#NISAW2023 #InvasiveSpecies #conservethe40forest #urbanforest #communityforestry #nativeplants #urbanecosystem (View Monday Facebook Post)

Emerald Ash Borer


February 20-26 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week! Let’s look at the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). Invasive plants aren’t the only threat to our ecosystems. Presence of Emerald Ash Borers in the U.S. was first detected in 2002. EABs have damaged and killed tens of millions of native ash trees in the U.S. (Green ash, Fraxinus pennsylvanica, and White ash, Fraxinus americana). EAB infestations have been detected in 36 states, including Georgia. Invasive pest species can spread through human activity, including with imported plants and soils; hitchhiking on shoes, clothes, or the fur of our pets; and in packaging materials shipped from other areas. Threats to specific species of trees and plants reinforce the importance of biodiversity to minimize monoculture planting.

Join us on Wednesday to learn more about invasive species and how we deal with them by tuning in to our Lunch and Learn. View our Calendar for details for future education events and watch recordings of our past virtual classes on YouTube!

Also check out the USDA APHIS database for more information on plant pests, like EAB (see caption on image for link).

#NISAW2023 #InvasiveSpecies #conservethe40forest #urbanforest #communityforestry #nativeplants #urbanecosystem (View Tuesday Facebook Post)

Before & After: Effect of Invasive Removal


Greenspaces in cities are natural areas, but spaces in cities aren’t remote forests. A common misconception about urban and suburban greenspaces is that these natural areas are completely self-sustaining. These areas exist within an urban environment and are impacted by the proximity and interaction with habited places and people. They need and benefit from purposeful intervention to sustain a healthy and functional ecosystem. The management of invasive plants can be one of the most labor-intensive, time-consuming, and technically challenging aspects of greenspace management.

February 20-26 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week. Today we highlight the invasive plant removal at Legacy Park in Decatur. Trees Atlanta has partnered with the City of Decatur to remove invasive shrubs, vines, and groundcover in Legacy Park. Since October 2021, our volunteers and staff have led monthly forest restoration projects in this park as part of a multi-year effort.

Invasive plant removal can take years, and it’s important to note that the work will never be “done”. Our urban ecosystems need ongoing maintenance and monitoring. Take a look at the before and after photos showing the progress of our invasive plant removal in Legacy Park. Trees Atlanta staff removes invasive plants from our greenspaces all around the Atlanta area daily. If you would like to help, we lead volunteer projects every week, and we host education events like the Lunch & Learn on invasive species! Find the link to our restoration volunteer opportunities on our website calendar and consider signing up for our email newsletter to stay updated. (View recordings of our virtual classes on YouTube!)

#NISAW2023 #InvasiveSpecies #conservethe40forest #urbanforest #communityforestry #nativeplants #urbanecosystem #legacypark (View Wednesday Facebook Post)

Benefits of Invasive Removal


An ecosystem is a interconnected community. The flora and fauna that share a space (including humans) are all affected by and effect one another. In greenspaces, removal of invasive plant species often leads to greater success of native ones. This creates more habitats for native birds, insects, and mammals.

Take a look at our friend, the Carolina chickadee. They require a landscape of 70%+ native plants to keep their populations steady. An important source of food for birds are caterpillars, and guess what, according to Doug Tallamy, oaks support over 500 different species of caterpillars–more than any other native tree or plant. You can also check out Doug Tallamy’s latest project, Homegrown National Park, an effort to encourage more native plant species in backyards and front yards across the nation regardless of size, style, and place! Closer to our home, you can learn more about native flora and fauna for our regions from organizations like Intown Atlanta Chapter of the Georgia Native Plant Society and Georgia Audubon.

Trees Atlanta’s annual 2023 Native Plant Sale is just around the corner! There are two ways to shop this year! Select and order your plants on our online store from March 10 – 26 or come to the Carter Center on Saturday, April 8 from 8 am – 1 pm!

February 20-26 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week.  #NISAW2023 #InvasiveSpecies #conservethe40forest #urbanforest #communityforestry #nativeplants #urbanecosystem #forestrestoration (View Thursday Facebook Post)

Preserving Our Piedmont Forest

Atlanta is located in the Georgia Piedmont at the “foot of the hill” — pied (“foot”) and monte (“hill”). The larger southern Piedmont is a plateau region that lies between the Appalachian Mountains and the Coastal Plain that spans from Alabama to Virginia and Washington DC.

In order to understand how invasive plants negatively affect our ecosystems, it’s helpful to know more about what the ecosystems should look like. So, what should a Piedmont forest look like?

The original forests of the southern Piedmont consisted mostly of oak and hickory trees. A heavily invaded forest often looks overgrown in the understory. In the Georgia Piedmont, invasive understory plants are typically evergreen, and a green understory in the winter and fall is an indicator that there is a high level of invasive species. An example of a stand of original forest is located at Fernbank Forest in Atlanta where Trees Atlanta has worked extensively with the Fernbank Museum to remove and manage invasives.

Lake Charlotte in southeast Atlanta includes 216 acres of forested land. In the fall, you can see the understory is largely clear with some groundcover and climbing vines. This is a good indicator of a healthier piedmont forest. Take a walk through this urban forest. While much restoration work is ahead, what we can do now to protect our urban forests is to spend time amongst the trees and enjoy these beautiful natural spaces.

As we close out National Invasive Species Awareness Week, we encourage you to continue learning by joining Trees Atlanta at one of our many forest restoration projects across metro Atlanta. View Trees Atlanta’s event calendar for more information about opportunities near you. Explore our website Resources and YouTube channel for additional recorded presentations on invasive species identification and removal. Mark your calendars for our annual Conserve the 4-0-Forest projects (April 21 & 22)!

#NISAW2023 #InvasiveSpecies #conservethe40forest #urbanforest #communityforestry #nativeplants #urbanecosystem #forestrestoration (View Friday Facebook Post)

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Posted on: March 1, 2023