VICTORIA, B.C. — The B.C. government and the Invasive Species Council of B.C. have released an updated five-year strategic plan to combat invasive species, while the government also proclaimed May 2018 as Invasive Species Action Month.Invasive species are plants or animals that are not native to this province, or are outside of their natural distribution areas. Invasive plants, for example, can reduce biodiversity, increase soil erosion, alter soil chemistry and adversely affect commercial crops. Some may pose a health risk to animals and people.“Once invasive species become established, they can spread rapidly, and seriously disrupt B.C.’s ecosystems if left unchecked,” said Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. “The close partnerships that our government has developed with the Invasive Species Council of B.C., regional invasive species organizations and several local governments have gone a long way toward managing these harmful species.” The Invasive Plant Program identifies sites where new invasive plant species have been found and responds quickly to contain and eradicate them before they become established and start spreading.The Invasive Species Strategy for British Columbia 2018-2022 includes recommendations for the management of problem species, habitat restoration, monitoring programs, regulation and policy, funding and research.“The updated Invasive Species Strategy for British Columbia demonstrates our ongoing commitment to contain the spread of invasive species in this province,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Proclaiming May 2018 as Invasive Species Action Month will help raise awareness of how these species can affect both urban and rural environments.”Members of the public can report sightings of invasive plant species anywhere in B.C. by using the Report-A-Weed or Report Invasives BC smartphone apps, by calling 1 888-WEEDSBC (1 888 933-3722), or by using the online reporting tool available at: http://www.gov.bc.ca/invasive-species.