Iowa Woodland Invasive Species Inventory


Invasive plant species are plants that are not native to an ecosystem and potentially cause economic or environmental damage to the area. Many plants have been introduced into the north central United States without much impact, but a few species, such as garlic mustard, buckthorn, multiflora rose, and bush honeysuckle, have become very problematic and are impacting woodlands severely. The extent of these species' invasion needs to be known before a plan of action can be developed.

About the Program

The "North Central Plan for Documentation and Awareness of Invasive Plants impacting Forests" was initiated in 2002 by the Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry of the USDA Forest Service. The goals of the program are to map the distribution and severity of the four major invasive plants occurring in forests within the North Central region and increase public awareness about invasive species. This is a multi-state program involving Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin and possibly others. Volunteers are needed to help us collect and report the data needed to develop a strategy for managing invasive species.

Who is involved in this project?

This monitoring project is a cooperative effort between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Division of Forests and Prairies, Iowa State University Department of Forestry and Forestry Extension, Iowa State University Department of Animal Ecology and the Iowa NatureMapping Program, the USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, as well as volunteers like you.


The initial protocol was conducted from 2002-2003. However, funding has been secured to allow the project to continue. Data are being collected about the abundance of invasive species across the north central region and an index of the severity of their invasion is being developed. Our data collection relies on the help of volunteers. To equip our volunteers, one-day long intensive training sessions are conducted throughout the north central region. Volunteers are instructed on invasive species identification and the methods used to collect the data needed. A list of the target survey sites in the area will be provided to the volunteers at the workshops. We will be collecting data throughout all forested areas, both public and private.

Volunteers will be able to report their data electronically by connecting to our website (web address will be furnished at the training sessions). Data collected thus far has been used to produce range and severity maps for the four major invasive species. These maps will be updated as additional data is collected. The data will eventually be used to develop an invasive species management plan for the north central region.


Information resulting from this study will be made readily available to the public, both through the website and various other published materials and presentations, with the goal of facilitating the application of the research results to solving management problems related to invasive species.