Alaska's national parks are home to complex native communities of plants and animals that have developed over millions of years. The delicate natural balance within these communities is threatened by the influx of invasive plants, which are considered the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss. Invasive plants display rapid growth, spread with little or no human assistance, and are expensive to remove and difficult to control once established. Invasive plants are a concern because they threaten the genetic integrity of native flora through hybridization, can out-compete native plant species for limited resources, and can change the structure and function of ecosystems. Establishment of invasive plants can also result in loss of habitat and food sources for native insects, birds, fish, and other wildlife.
The Alaska Exotic Plant Management Team provides invasive plant management assistance to each of the 16 national parks in Alaska. These parks cover over 52 million acres of pristine natural areas and wilderness, including coastal fjords, glacial valleys, tundra, and boreal forests. The majority of national parks in Alaska contain healthy, intact native ecosystems with very low levels of infestation by invasive plants.