Since we are accustomed to a life full of modern conveniences, it is important to remember that human survival still depends on the planet's natural diversity. Pennsylvania has 25,000 species of plants and animals, with more than 2,100 being native (IConserve, 2007). It is critical to appreciate the sustainable use of these natural resources that influence our beautiful state’s economic health and quality of life of all Pennsylvanians. Yet many threats to our home’s biodiversity are present. One significant threat is invasive plant species that are eliminating native plant species. Invasive plants are plants which grow aggressively, spreading and displacing other plants (Ball, 2002). Whether it is intentional or not, they are often introduced by humans. On the other hand, native plants are pants that existed within Pennsylvania before European settlement. Because they are meant to grow here, they are quite beneficial to the environment as well as people (Fell 1995). In order to preserve Pennsylvania’s health and natural beauty, it is essential to control the growth of invasive plant species while supporting the growth of native plant species.
When Pennsylvania was first settled in the 1600’s by William Penn, abundant plants covered about 90% of the state (IConserve 2007). All of these plants are considered to be natives because they existed in the area before human settlement. Unfortunately, due to human interactions with nature, the landscape has changed significantly over time. Many plants that once defined Pennsylvania have been lost; however, this problem can be reversed to some extent. By 2000, five percent of Pennsylvania’s native plant species had been lost and another twenty-five percent were in danger of becoming extinct (IConserve 2007). One of the main reasons for this loss is the growth of invasive plants. Unfortunately, invasive plants could become more even more common, widespread, and destructive as the climate continues to change (Climate Change 2010).
Invasive plant species are rather harmful because they are degrading our native environments. They “know no boundaries” (Invasive Plants: Silent Invaders, 2004). Invasive plants are a huge factor in the continuous loss of native plants, second only to habitat loss. This replacement of natives with invasives causes problems for many native animals, birds, and insects. Because they reduce plant diversity, they limit food and shelter availability for numerous types of wildlife. Also, because they spread so quickly they are causing significant damage to many native plant species as they monopolize the ecosystem’s moisture, light, and soil nutrients (Exotic Plants 2004). Therefore, they are depriving these essential parts of life from the native plants.
Invasive plants can be trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, or flowers. They are often plants that have been introduced from other countries that can reproduce freely because they often do not have disease,...