Invasive Species Awareness Week:
February 28 to March 4

Invasive Species are non-native species such as plants, animals, fish and microorganisms whose spread is so rapid that it imperils the biodiversity and healthy functioning of the environment, and impacts the economy and sometimes human health.

Your help is needed to combat the spread of invasive species. Georgian Bay Forever and many environmental organizations partner on this week to drive awareness and learning.

Click on these links to learn more:

One further way to help is to support invasive species education and prevention through a donation to Georgian Bay Forever. Your gift will go towards programs like our Coastal Wetlands Restoration project that protects the water by keeping invasive Phragmites out of Georgian Bay's coastal wetlands through education, removal and research - as well as other important water protection initiatives.

Some ways invasive species invade new environments, and what can I do?

Precious Species

There are many ways that invasive species can get introduced. Some of these include:

1. Through the aquarium or horticultural trades. Be cognizant of what you are buying when you go and pick out plants for the garden - ask for native plants. Be concerned about not just the plants, but the seeds and what you may be using for bird feed.

If you have an aquarium with exotic fish, don't release them into our waterways. Here is one 'do not' example that we all relate to - goldfish - which have been found in the Great Lakes. They are taking food and habitat from native species. Read more from a CTV News article .

Helpful resources:

2. Live food fish trades. This refers to live fish traded for human consumption. Asian carp best exemplifies why this is a danger. If these live fish got into waterways through negligence or lack of education, and started to reproduce, the consequences to food webs in the Great Lakes would be enormous. It is illegal to transport, sell, or possess live Asian Carp in Ontario and the Great Lakes US States.

3. Packaging materials. Careful what comes your way in the packaging of products you buy. For example, wood packaging was identified as a method of transport for the Asian Long Horned beetle from China to the US. This beetle killed many broad leafed trees in the US in particular. Read more about this invasive at the Invading Species Awareness Program website. Sadly, another pathway - wood movement - exacerbated the spread (see next point).

4. Movement of wood. Bringing wood for campfires for example, from another region, brings species from that area that can be invasive like the Asian Long Horned beetle. Another example is the Emerald Ash Borer that has devastated ash trees in Southwest Ontario and Great Lakes States. Remember to buy it where you burn it! More info about the Emerald Ash Borer an be found at the Invading Species Awareness Program website.

5. Unauthorized fish introductions' or transfers.Unauthorized fish introductions' or transfers. One example - do not ever release live bait from fishing into a waterway. You can't be sure what species your bait is.

6. Contaminated Vehicles for transportation, construction, or recreation. Your boat, or ATV for example could be carrying aquatic or terrestrial invasive plant bits or organisms that can be transferred to other areas and start to grow and multiply. To avoid this transfer, implement clean equipment protocols and consider buying a brush for your clothing if you are hiking through the woods in new areas.

Helpful resources:

What you can do?

1. You've already started! By learning about invasives and their pathways, you're well on your way to know what to do to help prevent them. Help spread the word!

2. Early Detection. Rapid Response. If you see an invasive, report it immediately and find out if there are ways that you can help manage the invasive. It is so much less expensive in time and resources to deal with an invasive as it is emerging, then when it becomes fully established.
Here is what to do:
  • Call or report your sightings at a) Invading Species Hotline at 1-800-563-7711 or b) via email or c) use the new Invasive Species tracking system, and mobile App for Android and Apple devices! EDDMapS Ontario is a fast and easy way to map invasive species without any technical expertise. Users simply take a picture with their mobile device and report from where they are standing. Visit to register and report your sighting.
  • Some invasives can be managed using proper techniques. The Ontario Invasive Plant Council provides several Best Practice Management Guides for Invasive Plants.
  • Help tackle invasive Phragmites in coastal wetlands in Georgian Bay! These coastal wetlands are such important habitat for Great Lakes species, we can't let them be destroyed by invasive Phragmites. Learn about this invasive and join a Georgian Bay group this summer! Phragbusting is a rewarding community activity. Find out more.

Thank you for learning about invasive species and working to protect native ecosystems! During this week, you can follow the hashtag #InvSpWk.

What invasives are in my Georgian Bay aquatic environment? Are there upcoming threats?

Invasive Species

There are more than 180 non-native aquatic species such as plants, animals, fish and microorganisms that have entered the Great Lakes to date, and the impact of many of these introduced species can be catastrophic for native ecosystems. When the spread of a non-native species risks major damage to the environment, human economy or human health, they are called invasive.

Here are a few examples:
  • Invasive Phragmites. A reed originally from Europe that threatens to take over coastal wetlands in Georgian Bay, impacting biodiversity, reducing habitat, impairing wetland functionality, and interfering with recreational access to the water. Georgian Bay Forever works with partners and community groups and volunteers like you to remove this plant from Georgian Bay wetlands. Learn about this invasive and join a Georgian Bay group this summer! Find out more.
  • Round Goby Non-native, bottom dwelling fish that eat eggs of young native fish and reproduce at a high rate. Listen to the 1 Minute podcast.
  • Quagga Mussels. Impressive breeders that eat plankton and other organisms that native fish need - disrupting the food web. Listen to the 1 Minute podcast.
  • Top 6 invasives that threaten Great Lakes wetlands. A perspective from ecologist Dr. Janice Gilbert. Read the article.
  • Eurasian Watermilfoil…….Stealth Invader. An article by Peter Andrews, a Eurasian watermilfoil community project manager. Read the article.
  • Asian carp - 3 species are not in the Great Lakes, but a huge concern to transfer from the Mississippi Basin. One species, grass carp (and capable of reproduction), have been recently reported to have been found in Lake Erie. Learn more.
These are just a few. For an overview on invasives, please watch this video featuring Georgian Bay's David Sweetnam speaking at a Phragmites workshop. Skip the intro and start at 2.42 minutes of an approximately 17 minute video.

Thank you for learning about invasive species and working to protect native ecosystems! During this week, you can follow the hashtag #InvSpWk

Tools for Invasive Species Action

Invasive Species tool

It takes all levels of society, governments, citizens, corporations, and non-profit organizations and more to work together to combat invasive species. This environmental charity, Georgian Bay Forever, plays a role in helping to educate, train and help manage and prevent invasive species.

The list below is not exhaustive - there are so many organizations and conservation authorities that all contribute and can provide information. Here is a selection of tools and resources from invasive fighting organizations:

Thank you for learning about invasive species and working to protect native ecosystems! During this week, you can follow the hashtag #InvSpWk.

Don’t plant invasive species in your garden

Ornamental grasses tool

Unfortunately, sometimes we unknowingly contribute to invasive spread by planting harmful plants in our gardens. The best thing to do is to ask about and buy native plants. Here are some resources that can help you:

Where can I learn more?

There are many organizations and websites that provide free information and access to training resources and more to combat invasive species. This is not an exhaustive list, but here are a few good examples:

Act quote

What is Invasive Species Awareness Week?

Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) is a partnership initiative that focuses on educating citizens and organizations about invasive species through social media. The campaign has operated in Ontario since 2016 when the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, Invading Species Awareness Program, Invasive Species Centre & Forests Ontario joined together to share a united message on the threat invasive species pose to Ontario’s natural capital. The efforts were inspired by the “National Invasive Species Awareness Week” in the United States. The campaign continued in 2017 with tremendous success and continues to today in 2021. More than 30 organizations, including Georgian Bay Forever, have historically joined the campaign in any given year, with many other organizations and individuals following suit during the 5-day campaign. The campaign is typically so popular that the unique hashtag (#InvSpWk) trends on Twitter during the week!