As part of our Woodland Restoration Initiative, Riverside Park Conservancy has spent countless hours of volunteer and staff time over the last 15 years to control invasive species in our Bird Sanctuary. Substantial progress has been made from 116th to 119th Streets, and along the West Side Highway north of the 119th Street Tennis Courts.
Unfortunately, it has been difficult to make progress in areas with steep slopes. Some of the species of plants that have proven most difficult to control are Porcelain Berry, English Ivy, Mugwort, Multiflora Rose and Poison Ivy, among several other species. These plants and vines have dominated two acres of the degraded woodland that we are working to improve.
Riverside Park’s goats will be like a new herd of full-time professional weeding staff. They are able to traverse difficult, hard-to-reach places, and can also gulp down poison ivy without a second thought. This frees up human hands — and significant portions of time — to work on other components of restoration.
Goats and their giant appetites have been widely used by farmers, and recently, by nearby parks to assist in controlling and suppressing the growth of these detrimental invasive plants. Not only to goats eat almost constantly — they can consume 25% of their own body weight in vegetation in just one day — but their fecal matter adds nutrients to the soil as they go. It’s an all around win — a sustainable, chemical-free method of removing invasive species from a landscape.