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    letters | new england’s animals return

    Invasive species threaten recovery

    IT WAS great to see the story about the recovery of our native forests (“These woods are lovely, dark, and back,” Page A1, Sept. 1), but there is a looming threat to these newly established forests that the article didn’t mention: Invasive plant species that threaten the long term health of New England forests.

    Norway maples out-compete our beloved sugar maple, and other native species. Buckthorn shrubs are taking over many areas as the dominant understory, crowding out native saplings so new trees cannot take root to grow to maturity. Japanese knotweed is rampant in transition zones, inhibiting the growth of traditional transition zone species. The swallow-wort vine is smothering native trees, then dispersing millions of its seeds to the wind. These are just a few of the non-native plants introduced by New England gardeners that have left their controlled environment and are now out-competing our native species in the wild.

    To protect these reestablished forests we all need to be vigilant, learn to recognize and remove invasive plants from our yards and gardens, and form groups of volunteers to eradicate clusters of invasive plants from public lands before they can take hold. We are so lucky to have the return of these lovely forests, but they won’t be here for future generations if we don’t protect them.

    Ann Dorfman