PEI Invasive Species Council launches online reporting system

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There’s a new way to report sightings of invasive species in Prince Edward Island, and it’s completely online.

At the end of November, the PEI Invasive Species Council launched its new reporting system: a online mapping system called EDDMapS. It stands for Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System.

The system is already in use in several US states and some other Canadian provinces. It was created in 2005 by the Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health at the University of Georgia.

Simon Wilmot, coordinator of the PEI Invasive Species Council, said the mapping tool is essential to the council’s project to create an early detection and rapid response framework for invasive species on the island.

“What we’re working on is establishing a cost-effective way of managing the potential negative impacts of invasive species, and the main part of that is detecting these species when they arrive on the island and reacting the most. quickly as possible,” says Wilmot.

Throughout the summer, the Invasive Species Council worked with local environmental groups to control the spread of invasive species such as giant hogweed.

Wilmot previously said there were several databases and spreadsheets from different environmental organizations across the island that kept records of invasive species. He hopes this new mapping system will be a centralized place for Islanders to find information about invasive species.

How the mapping system works

When islanders spot an invasive plant or insect on their property or in the wild, they can report through the EDDMapS app or website. These reports are then verified by an expert like Wilmot before being placed on the map of Prince Edward Island.

David Dutkiewicz, entomology technician at the Invasive Species Center in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., said reporting via EDDMapS can help people learn more about what’s in their own backyard.

“If they have something like EDDMapS and they see something weird on their property and they’re like, ‘Hey, that’s weird, I’ll take a picture of it’…they can send it to someone to have it verified and that verifier will give them a yes or no answer,” he said.

Islanders can now report sightings of invasive species through a website called EDDMapS. (EDDMapS)

Derissa Vincentini, community action manager at the Invasive Species Center, said the mapping tool can help environmental groups respond quickly to invasive species.

“The sooner we can detect an invasive species that has been introduced recently, the easier we can respond to that threat and eradicate it,” Vincentini said, adding that it is cost effective to respond to such species before they take hold. spread widely. .

According to Vincentini, EDDMapS combines information from another invasive species mapping tool called iNaturalist, so the system has a significant amount of data on invasive species in Canada and the United States.

Reporting through the EDDMapS app and website is free, but users must create an account to report a sighting.

“We need public support”

Wilmot said one of the main reasons Islanders should report sightings of invasive species on their properties is that most land on Prince Edward Island is privately owned, which means many areas are not easily accessible to environmental groups.

“Invasive species obviously don’t discriminate between public and private lands,” he said. “We need public support to record these sightings or get in touch and let us know where they are.”

Simon Wilmot, co-ordinator of the PEI Invasive Species Council, says it’s important for the public to report sightings of invasive species because most land on the island is privately owned. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Dutkiewicz said that a single invasive insect, such as the emerald ash borer, could devastate Canadian forests and have a negative impact on the economy if not properly managed.

“You’re talking about the loss of hundreds and hundreds of millions of trees, and that impact alone, you know, is huge economically,” Dutkiewicz said.

Vincentini said the more people there are looking for invasive species, the longer it takes experts to work to eradicate those species.

“You also have people starting to think about their actions and how they can help spread invasive species,” she said.

The PEI Invasive Species Council is running a competition until February 1 to see who can report the most invasive species sightings via EDDMapS. More information on the town hall’s Facebook page..

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