Greenways North Field Habitat Restoration
September 25, 2012
Look what’s happening at Greenways! Gone are the shrubs and in a field that just a few years ago was dominated by invasive plants such as Glossy buckthorn, Multiflora rose, and Purple loosestrife, an open field habitat has emerged. Due to diligent management practices, SVT has been able to see a marked decline in the presence of these aggressive invasive species. Now, with invasive control efforts winding down, SVT is able to start planting for the future! With a suite of native grasses and wildflowers being planted this summer, the North Field at the Greenways Conservation Area begins the next step of its restoration back into a habitat where a diversity of butterflies and other pollinators will soon find a new home.
In 1995, our regional botanist, Frances Clark, described the north field as being “rich in both upland and wet meadow plant species.” She went on to say that “the field has the greatest diversity of butterflies of any other habitat at the Greenways Conservation Area. The numbers and coverage of invasive exotic species is low at this time.”
Sadly, over the last 17 years, the quality of the field has dramatically declined. The native flora diversity has declined precipitously, as has the number and diversity of butterflies. Glossy buckthorn has spread and dominates the central and eastern portions of the field. Multiflora rose is also common in the field. Native plant diversity has declined with sensitive fern being dominant.
SVT initiated limited habitat restoration from 2005 to 2007. With a grant from the Massachusetts Landowner Incentives Program, we hired a contractor to clear the field perimeters of invasive shrubs. However, the glossy buckthorn in the field interior remained a problem that would require use of herbicides to effectively control.
In 2012 as part of a CISMA project, SVT received a grant from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation’s Pulling Together Initiative. SVT hired the New England Wild Flower Society to conduct selective herbiciding of plants in the field. Volunteers are also assisting with this effort. It will require several years of treatment to yield the ultimate goal of reducing the invasive plant cover by over 75% and increasing the native plant and butterfly diversity.