Invasive Pests and Biosecurity

There are many non-native, invasive pests that threaten British Columbia's economy, including the agriculture and forest industries, and the environment. Prevention, early detection, and control or eradication of these pests is key to preventing their establishment in B.C.

What are non-native, invasive pests?

A pest is a harmful, noxious or troublesome organism. Pests include insects, weeds, plant pathogens (fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodes), rodents, and other plant or animal pests. 

A non-native pest (also known as alien species or exotic pests) are pests that are introduced to a country or region deliberately or by accident, outside of their natural habitat. If the new habitat is suitable, introduced pests can often survive, multiply and spread (becoming invasive). A lack of natural enemies in their new location is often an important factor allowing their population to increase unchecked. 

What is a regulated pest?

A regulated or quarantine pest is a pest that is regulated at the federal, provincial or municipal level, to prevent its introduction or additional spread. Regulations may prohibit certain plants from being grown in control areas, may restrict the movement or transport of certain plants, products or soil between areas to prevent a pest from spreading, and may require property owners to control certain pests. Most federally regulated pests are not known to be present in Canada.  Some regulated pests may be established in small areas that are under active control or eradication.

Damage caused by invasive pests

Introduced pests that become established in their new habitats often become invasive pests and cause economic damage.  The damage may be direct, such as crop damage, or indirect, such as quarantine restrictions or loss of export markets. 

Invasive pests negatively affect agriculture, forests, rangelands, and native plants and animals (biodiversity) by competing for available space and food, or by directly attacking native species, crops or landscape plants. Control measures to prevent the establishment and spread of new pests are not always available, and when available, may be very costly.  Costs for eradication of a new pest can amount to millions of dollars.

Biosecurity

Crop biosecurity prevents, minimizes and controls the introduction and spread of plant pests at the farm level. Implementing a biosecurity plan for your farm can help to protect you from introduction of new pest problems. 

Help prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests from farm to farm by following the Biosecurity Guidelines for Farm Visitors and On-Farm and Greenhouse Sanitation and Disinfection Practices to Minimize the Impact of Plant Pests.

Early detection and rapid response

The key to management of new invasive pests is prevention, early detection and rapid response to prevent establishment. 

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has the lead role in protecting Canada from the introduction of new plant pests and preventing the spread of certain pests within and between provinces. The CFIA conducts Pest Risk Assessments of new pests and regulates many pests. The Agency conducts annual surveillance programs within Canada to document the absence of selected pests as well as to detect the presence of new invasive species arriving in Canada. 

The Government of British Columbia administers the Plant Protection Act and the Weed Control Act to help prevent the spread of plant pests and invasive plants within the province.

The British Columbia Plant Protection Advisory Council provides a forum to address plant health and plant quarantine issues of concern to British Columbia.

How to help

Early detection and identification of a new pest will greatly improve chances of eradicating the pest or slowing its spread and damage.