BIOLOGICAL & CULTURAL IVM
Many Utilities practice Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM). IVM has four methods to keep existing and new ROW vegetation within prescribed compliance. The two most widespread methods are Mechanical and Chemical, and are abundantly available and heavily applied in today’s ROW vegetation maintenance market.
Mechanical vegetation control methods use machines to mow, cut, remove, or prune undesirable ROW vegetation. Chemical vegetation control methods use a range of growth regulators and herbicides to either stunt or kill targeted ROW vegetation. These two methods' aim is to prune or eradicate unwanted vegetation, with the intention that compatible vegetation will either be left in place or will occupy new and open spaces.
Less attention has been given to Cultural and Biological vegetation control methods. Cultural methods aggressively modify habitats to discourage incompatible vegetation and to establish and manage compatible plant communities. Biological control methods focus on promoting and maintaining compatible vegetation to make it difficult for incompatible vegetation to establish. Both of these less developed methods actively encourage the vegetation we DO want.
Though Mechanical and Chemical methods are more widespread, that does not mean they are better. The fact that Cultural and Biological methods are less developed does not mean they are lesser practices. In fact, many were advocated by Frank Edwin Egler (1911-1996), a seminal American plant ecologist and research pioneer in the study of vegetation science. He famously encouraged a balance of philosophy, research, and applied knowledge to ROW work. His writing, Vegetation Management for Rights-of-way and Roadsides (1954), influenced the vision and practices on Rights-Of-Way Integrated Vegetation Management (IVM) Systems.
Today, Grow With Trees is revisiting Egler's vision and developing it in our modern world.