graphic showing invasive thistle


It is important to think about the long-term management of both urban and rural landscapes in order to maximize landscape resiliency. Addressing the long-term needs of landscapes and individual projects is best accomplished through a comprehensive approach that decreases landscape stressors, adds diversity and involves coordination to manage invasive species and other specific threats. Collaborative efforts such as BWSR's Cooperative Weed Management Areas (CWMAs) play an important role in managing invasive species across geographic boundaries. 

Innovative methods are often needed to manage conservation lands and natural areas and adaptive approaches are needed to adjust to changing site conditions. Practices such as conservation grazing and haying can help support local economies.

The BWSR Invasive Species Plan describes our approach to invasive species management, including our work to date, interagency coordination, grant programs, action steps, and guidance for staff and contractors to prevent the spread of invasive species.

Planning Methods and Programs

Collaborative planning efforts are key to effectively control invasive species and maintain ecological function. The following are some key planning efforts and methods:

Cooperative Weed Management Area Planning. BWSR’s Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) program aims to develop partnerships between landowners, government units and other interested partners to manage invasive species across geographic boundaries, control emerging weed threats and facilitate the removal of invasive species. CWMAs are also focusing on controlling emerging weed threats that benefit from warming climate such as woody invasive species that are invading northern forests. With cooperation, community groups can protect diversity and resiliency of natural areas and conservation lands.

purple loosestrife, an invasive species
Purple loosestrife, an invasive species

State Management Plan for Invasive Species (pdf(DNR). Region-specific, this plan outlines the impacts of invasive species in Minnesota and multiple programs and strategies for prevention, early detection, rapid response, and containment.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Managing Invasive Plants Resource. This website provides learning modules on various different invasive plant management concepts, principles and practices. Including land management goals, strategies and control options, monitoring methods and more, the tool is a comprehensive overview of various management tools and resources.

BWSR Long-Term Management Guidance. The Minnesota Wetland Restoration Guide includes detailed technical sheets about a wide range of practices that can be used for long-term management of landscapes.

Key Strategies

  1. Developing Strong Partnerships. Strong partnerships are important for the effective management of landscapes to share resources and knowledge and to collectively prevent the spread of invasive species. Landowner outreach, guidance and involvement is also key to effective land stewardship.
  1. Prioritizing Management Areas. Work with project partners to identify the prairie, forest, wetland and aquatic landscapes as well as water quality projects or other conservation practices that are in greatest need of management based on resource needs and ecological function. This may involve restoring habitat complexes or key water resources to restore natural cycles and plant and animal populations. For invasive species control key vectors such as roadsides and trails that lead to spread in conservation lands and natural areas may also need to be priority areas.
  1. Minimizing Landscape Stressors. Investigate opportunities to improve environmental conditions throughout watersheds. Specific stressors such as high nutrients, soil erosion or invasive species may be impacting the integrity of natural communities or the function of conservation practices.
    Common buckthorn
    Common buckthorn
  1. Securing Management Funding. Funding may be available to assist with the long-term management of projects through grants. When applying for grants it is often beneficial to stress how the effort will fit into larger planning initiatives to improve wildlife habitat or manage invasive species.
  1. Developing Long-term Management Plans. It is helpful to develop management plans for both the establishment phase of projects and long-term management. Project goals and site conditions and available funding will help define potential long-term strategies.
  1. Supporting Local Economies. Management activities such as haying and grazing (pdf) can help restore degraded grasslands and maintain native plantings while also creating economic opportunities for local businesses.
  1. Using Integrated Pest Management Strategies. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) involves the use of a variety of control methods to manage pests while decreasing the use of herbicides and pesticides or providing practices for their use. These methods help decrease impacts to pollinators, aquatic species and other organisms.
  1. Managing Invasive Species Across Boundaries. Invasive species are effective at dispersal, giving them an advantage in adapting to climate change. Plan to work in partnerships to prioritize and manage invasive species across ownership boundaries to restore resilient landscapes.
  1. Using Best Practices for Control and Management. Information about project successes and innovative practices is valuable. What
    Bumblebee on hedge nettle
    Bumblebee on hedge nettle
    practices provide the most benefits in our landscapes? What common activities are not worth the cost or make a problem worse? BWSR’s "What's Working" web pages collect practitioner information about real-world outcomes. The Minnesota Wetland Restoration Guide technical sheets summarize a variety of practices that can be used for management.
  1. Replanting with Native Species. Areas of plant diversity support wildlife species and increases resiliency by helping plant communities continue to function as intact systems during climate variation. Planting native species after invasive species control adds to landscape resiliency. Diverse state seed mixes are available for a variety of project types and the Minnesota Wetland Restoration Guide summarizes restoration strategies for uplands and wetlands.

  1. Working with Ecological Adaptation. Natural plant communities have the ability to adapt and develop a natural dynamic through genetic adaptation, succession and natural colonization. Promote these processes to provide desired ecological functions, and buffer the community during future changes in climate and associated disturbance. Use assisted migration as needed to help maintain plant community integrity in plant communities.
Prescribed burning in Houston County
Prescribed burning in Houston County
  1. Promoting Natural Disturbance. Restore natural disturbances that sustain specific natural plant communities such as prescribed fire, conservation grazing and hydrologic variation. These disturbances play a key role in maintaining diversity as well as plant community structure and wildlife use.
  1. Public Engagement. Finding ways to engage landowners in projects within urban or rural communities can be an important way to promote the long-term care of landscapes. This can be accomplished through volunteer events, tours or promoting community gatherings where invasive species management or other landscape management practices are featured. Having landowners speak about the benefits of efforts on their property can be an effective method of motivating other landowners.
  1. Practicing Adaptive Management. Adjust management practices based on monitoring efforts and experience with successes and failures to improve the long-term effectiveness of management practices and resiliency of plant communities. Practices such as prescribed burning, water level management and prescribed grazing and haying may replicate natural disturbances and promote diversity and resiliency.


Dan Shaw
Senior Ecologist/Vegetation Specialist