Ricardo the goat and friends helping to keep OPG’s Niagara sites clear of invasive plants
At a glance
- Grazing goats helping to control and remove invasive plant species at OPG’s Niagara Operations.
- Unique program keeping OPG sites clear and improving biodiversity without use of herbicides.
- OPG’s Niagara Operations recently certified Gold by Wildlife Habitat Council.
Ricardo the goat and his hooved mates continue to munch down on invasive plants to provide a natural form of weed control around OPG’s operations in Niagara.
The goat-grazing program, which launched in 2020, has helped to remove more than 35,000 square metres of overgrown vegetation and invasive plant species such as phragmites and buckthorn, all while avoiding the use of herbicides and potential contamination of the environment.
The creative solution to this fast-growing problem has helped clear the lands around OPG’s Sir Adam Beck Pump Generating Station (PGS) and DeCew hydro stations, where overgrown vegetation can interfere with efforts to obtain readings of water levels, water quality and rate of flow. In the case of DeCew, the goats are also aiding in erosion control as the return of native vegetation is helping to strengthen the grounds at the site.
The hungry goats are also helping restore the natural land in these areas to ensure native species have the ecological environment they need to thrive.
Among the 50 or so four-legged weed-eaters is Ricardo, a one-year-old mixed Kiko and Boer goat. Along with his crew, Ricardo has been busy chewing deep in the ditches around the PGS reservoir and on the escarpment under the penstocks at the DeCew stations.
Goat grazing is a proven method to help with vegetation management and promoting the growth of native plants. This is attributable to the goat’s ability to eat many different kinds of plants, trees and noxious weeds. Seeds are no longer viable once they are digested because of the unique enzymes in the goat’s digestive track.
The unique biodiversity effort was among several initiatives that helped OPG’s Niagara Operations receive Gold certification from the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) earlier this year.
The WHC certifies conservation programs on corporate lands around the world and promotes environmental management through partnerships and education. All applications for certification are reviewed and scored on an individual basis by a third party against project-specific criteria, with a score falling into three categories: Certified, Certified Silver, and Certified Gold.