Plants are the foundation of life. They produce the oxygen we breathe. They provide more than 80 percent of the food we eat. We use them to make clothes, shelter, medicines and other essentials.
The United Nations has designated 2020 as the
International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). Parks Canada is proud to be part of this initiative to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health protects the environment and biodiversity.
Forest Health in Gros Morne National Park
Many visitors who come to Gros Morne Park are of course awed by the geological wonder, the Western Brook Pond Fjord, the Table Lands and sometimes they almost overlook the forest, it’s so obvious on the landscape but in fact it’s in the forest where we have one of our that we have one of our big ecological issues in the park.
We’ve got a problem in that we’ve got too many moose in the park, what we call a hyper-abundant species.
Moose were introduced to Newfoundland back in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
There was no major predator and we also then excluded hunting when the park was formed and so the moose population expanded very rapidly.
Well through years and years and years of browsing, the moose have effectively prevented the next generation of forest from regenerating over a very large area in the park. In fact, over 65 square kilometers of the park has now been converted from forest into a grassland-like state.
This scale is to the point where we’re actually seeing changes in biodiversity in the park and changes to the animal communities and the plant communities in the forest.
We recognised we had a serious problem, so what we did is we consulted with a number of stakeholders and experts in the field and started to look for, well what are the solutions that would bring back the forest regeneration, that normal process in Gros Morne National Park.
In the end it was decided that the most appropriate thing to do would be to have a population reduction, what we call a lethal reduction, which is essentially a hunt.
So this moose population reduction has had four years so far, we’re entering into our fifth year now, and we’ve actually seen quite a significant reduction in the numbers of moose in the park.
There have been over 3500 hunting licences issued for the park area.
That’s led to about a 30% drop in the population, about a 1400 animal reduction in the population of moose.
That has corresponded with improved regeneration in the forest
One of the things we’re seeing in our vegetation monitoring in particular is that some areas are regenerating better than others, and not surprisingly, it’s areas that have high hunter access.
In more remote areas in the park such as these areas behind me, in the mountains, it’s hard for hunters to access those areas and so in the next few years we’ll be trying to target those back-country areas that to date haven’t really seen very much hunting pressure.
When we get to that healthy forest regeneration stage, we’ll know that the moose population has been reduced sufficiently, and from then on we’ll be maintaining the moose population at that size.
Parks Canada has been working for many years now with stakeholders and partners in the public to find solutions to our forest health issues and it’s important for us to always recognise that this moose population reduction is really all about restoring the forest. So this beautiful forest we see behind me is really where we’re trying to get to and ensure that in the long-term, for future generations, that Gros Morne sustains a healthy forest ecosystem.
Find out how Parks Canada is working to protect plant health and biodiversity across the country.
What you can do to protect plant health
Don’t move firewood. Moving firewood, even just a few kilometres to or from a campground, is a common way for invasive insects and diseases to spread.
If you travel, always declare food, plants, soil and seeds at the border. You might think these items are harmless, but they can carry pests that can damage Canada’s plants.
If you’re a gardener, plant native species instead of exotic or invasive species.
International Year of Plant Health (IYPH) Photo Contest. It’s open to all photographers – professional and amateur – over the age of 18. Contest closes June 15, 2020. Find out more ways to
get involved with protecting plant health.
Protecting plants. Protecting life.
“I am life. I am home to millions… and sustain millions more.” Watch the
official video for the International Year of Plant Health.
Find out more about
Canada’s role in the International Year of Plant Health.