Alien Species Work Camp

The Article was published in German in the Magazine of National Park Gesäuse “Im Gseis, Nr. 41, Winter 2023, p.7.

Written by: Kaja Danowska

Title Photo: Luca Cantu

Sunday afternoon, the communal kitchen at the Forstgarten campsite is filling up. A different language is heard from every corner. The mood in the group becomes brighter by the hour, a mood that passes over to the new arrivals. People tell us from which countries they have arrived: some from Italy, Spain and Austria, others from Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Those who have travelled the furthest are those from Mexico.

This diverse group of 15 volunteers came together for a specific reason: to assist the Gesäuse National Park with various tasks in the field, including the removal of alien plant species. This was organised by the partner organisation Service Civil International (SCI). SCI organises work camps where participants from different countries work together on community projects. Volunteers are given the opportunity to participate in various (environmental) initiatives that contribute to the local community and cultural exchange.

The trails led through lush softwood floodplains, beech forests rich in orchids, and through spruce forests, to steep slopes with dry limestone grasslands. These habitats are distinguished by their variety of species and their rarity. However, their valuable status is threatened due to an increasing occurrence of invasive neophytes (alien plant species).

Even in rainy weather the motivation did not diminish and in four days, five management areas were completed and were cleaned of five alien species in a total of 25 hours.

From the early morning hours into the afternoon hours, volunteers dug, plucked and uprooted neophytes such as the Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica), Canada goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), Giant goldenrod (Solidago gigantea), and Annual fleabane (Erigeron annuus).

Many thanks for this effort!

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