Native plants work in natural communities to clean air, water and soil, serve as the base of food chains, provide habitat for wildlife, and do much more. When invasive species infest a plant community, they outcompete and displace the native species that have evolved to be part of that community. This displacement can cause disruptions throughout the ecosystem. Colonies of invasive species impact food sources for wildlife, change the structure of habitats (such as branch heights for perching and plant density for hiding), and alter the amount of light, water, and space available for other plants. Invasive species can change the soil’s chemistry so that it is unfavorable for other species to grow in for years to come. In some cases, they can even directly harm or poison wildlife.
Invasive plants can directly impact people as well, such as impairing public utility operations, altering water quality, limiting outdoor recreation, and threatening public safety. Oriental bittersweet can pull down power lines, Japanese knotweed can crumble pavement and obscure sight-lines on roadways and corners, and water chestnut can clog the waterways - these are just a few examples. For farming and forestry operations, invasive plant infestations can bring significant economic impacts. Species like giant hogweed can even physically harm people, pets, and livestock.