The Fight Against Phragmites

The Fight Against Phragmites
July 2, 2021 Debbie Pokornik

TRCA has worked to successfully restore the habitat quality in wetlands for species at risk through the management of an invasive species known as Phragmites australis (or the common reed). Phragmites is an invasive plant that is destroying native vegetation in wetlands across Southern Ontario leading to the reduction in biodiversity and wildlife habitat. Like most invasive species, it thrives with no natural predator to control its growth and left unrestrained, it completely infests coastal wetlands and sheltered bay coastlines, threatening vital ecosystems and further endangering species at risk. Managing this invasive species benefits various species identified as at risk, threatened or of special concern including birds such as the Least Bittern, Barn Swallows, Chimney Swifts, Monarchs, and Blanding’s Turtle along with many others.

With support from Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Great Lakes Protection Initiative, TRCA is managing phragmites at the Cell 1 and Cell 2 wetlands created at Tommy Thompson Park.  Since management began in 2018, of the presence of phragmites in these wetlands has been reduced by over 3 hectares, a decrease of 92%! That’s almost 6 football fields of restored wetlands! And the good news continues, native aquatic vegetation is returning in the Cell 1 wetland which is a promising sign for the long-term health of the wetland.  Brighter days are ahead as work continues to bring awareness to the issue and educate communities on how they can support important work such as this.

A wetland