WESTFORD — The Conservation Trust recently hired goats to protect Westford’s native flora in a new pilot program that cleared its first section of land last week.
The trust worked with Central Mass Goat Rental, based in Lunenburg, to clear invasive species on a section of conservation land off of Grey Fox Lane. The goats were delivered on Aug. 2 and were removed on Aug. 9.
As the trust aims to limit the impact of invasive species in the region, an approximately half-acre section of wooded area was fenced off – with seven goats placed within the enclosure. These goats, according to the Trust, clear the invasive species down to its roots.
“The goats will eat them right up. This is a pilot program to do part of the area and we’ll go from there,” Conservation Trust Treasurer Gerry DiBello told WestfordCAT.
A number of invasive species are set to be cleared, including oriental bittersweet and mugwort, which both outcompete native species.
“One of the worst is oriental bittersweet. What it tends to do is climb trees and bushes, smothers them and kills them,” he said.
He continued, “mugwort is just a plant that will just take over from native species and you’ll have nothing but mugwort.”
DiBello noted that the trust is using goats to limit the environmental impact of removing the invasive species, as well as meet Westford’s sustainability goals.
“Goats do not emit any greenhouse gasses and it’s certainly a lot nicer way to do it than using heavy machinery, making a lot of noise. And the goats get fed at the same time,” he said.
DiBello continues to encourage homeowners and hikers to pull invasive species wherever they may be found, even if they cannot afford a goat rental.
“Especially if you have bittersweet, absolutely. Try to start eradicating it from your land or hire a professional,” he said.
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