The Society of Ecological Restoration defines "landscape restoration" as, "assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed." In a global context this can include massive projects such as rainforest restoration and reclamation of large mining sites.
Here in Glastonbury our landscape restoration needs are a bit different! The most widespread and challenging landscape damage is done by invasive plants, with oriental bittersweet being the chief culprit causing extensive tree damage all over town. Loss of trees and loss of light caused by blankets of smothering vines and foliage has degraded, damaged or destroyed the native ecosystem in many infested areas of town.
So "landscape restoration Glastonbury style" consists of identifying plants that are damaging the landscape, properly removing and disposing of them, following up by restoring a more beneficial landscape, and preventing the regrowth of damaging species.
A growing trend in communities facing this challenge is that landscape services and arborists are beginning to offer professional "landscape restoration" services in addition to the usual mowing, edging, tree work, and so on. This is typically offered as a specific add-on service that will prevent or identify and remove invasive plants on a given property.
This trend has yet to emerge in Glastonbury but the need is certainly here, the demand will grow, and the smart companies will educate themselves and take the lead. That may sound overly optimistic but is there anybody who thinks we are not in dire need of more professionals who are qualified and marketing services in this area?
The big question is, "How does the property owner know the service provider is qualified?" Most property owners know very little about invasive plants and are unable to identify them, so they don't even know there is a problem until they see the vines growing up into their trees.
To help customers identify a qualified "landscape restoration" service provider some towns and states have created training and certification programs to educate companies offering landscape restoration services in the necessary plant identification information, legal requirements, removal and disposal procedures, and steps to take after initial removal.
One of the GPIP "Battling Bittersweet" Group's winter activities will be to work with local landscapers, state experts and others to create educational resources and if at all possible, a certification program.
Much of Glastonbury's 52 square miles is managed by landscape companies at the direction of home and landowners. For that reason we are convinced that a big part of controlling landscape damage depends on creating a new partnership between landowners and service providers that will focus on better prevention, identification and control of invasives as well as keeping the grass green and shrubs trimmed.
Landscape companies and arborists interested in helping develop an invasive plant management training and/or certification program are invited to contact Glastonbury Partners in Planting via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org