Free Panel Discussion: Phragmites – Eradicating a Troublesome Invader

Southern Ontario has been invaded by plant species that compete aggressively with native plants for territory and nutrients. The invaders colonize long established ecosystems and crowd out indigenous plants and wildlife dependent on them. The Eurasian common reed (Phragmites australis) is arguably the most troublesome. Phragmites grows in height to six metres with a dense broom-like flower head and a thickly knotted root system. It is a particular threat to Ontario’s wetlands, where it soaks up standing water; strangles cattails, bulrushes, and sedges; and creates thick stands that amphibians, reptiles, and marsh-breeding birds are then unable to access for food.

This panel discussion will address Phragmites control strategies, what works and doesn’t work, and how best to scale up pilot projects in which municipal staff leverage private volunteers to gain wider coverage.

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Presenters include:

Dr. Janice M. Gilbert, Founder & Executive Director, Invasive Phragmites Control Centre

Janice is a wetland ecologist with a PhD from Ohio State University and over 27 years of experience researching and assessing these invaluable ecosystems. She began investigating invasive Phragmites impacts on wetlands and appropriate control methods in 2007. Since that time, she has been a lead author on over 150 reports and presentations. She is a founder and Co-Chair of the Ontario Phragmites Working Group and an advisor on two binational programs the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative, and the Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework, which are both operated under the US Geological Service and supported by the Great Lakes Commission.

Lynn Short, Environmental Stewardship Coordinator, Humber College

Lynn is a Professor and Researcher at Humber College in Horticulture. During the summers, she works with students in controlling invasive plant species at the Humber Arboretum, a 100-hectare property on the Humber River adjacent to the college Property. She has developed an innovative technique to remove invasive Phragmites without herbicides. She trains students, other professionals, community groups and land managers in implementing effective Phragmites control using sharpened spades to selectively remove the Phragmites stalks.

Nicole Carpenter, Science Projects Manager—Phragmites Research, Georgian Bay Forever (GBF)

Nicole holds a Bachelor of Science with a focus on Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of Guelph, and a minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Environmental Analysis. GBF has been tackling Phragmites for 10 years and had eradicated 403 sites of 45 being monitored by 2021 primarily using summer volunteers. Nicole has been managing the invasive Phragmites program across southeastern Georgian Bay since 2021.

Jessica Iraci, Natural Environment Specialist, Natural Environment and Community Programs, Urban Forestry, City of Toronto

Jessica graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.Sc. in biology and environmental science and received her Master’s in Forestry in 2012. She implements restoration projects throughout the city, including chemical and volunteer-driven invasive management, reviews urban forestry policies, and assists in the coordination of volunteer programming including tree planting and the Community Stewardship Program. These programs engage volunteers in hands-on stewardship in restoration sites throughout the city.


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The Toronto Field Naturalists wish to acknowledge this land through which we walk. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississauga of the Credit River. Today it is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to be on this land.