Volunteers with the Nature Conservancy of Canada pulled out and chopped down an invasive shrub on Sunday in Nova Scotia.

The conservation group organized a cull of the glossy buckthorn shrub from its Pugwash Estuary Nature Reserve.

The introduced species has grown aggressively in the reserve, blocking the growth of native species such as pine and maple.

The Nature Conservancy says if the plant is allowed to flourish unchecked then native plants that help stabilize the land won't grow and that leads to erosion and runoff that threatens wildlife habitat.

The smaller glossy buckthorns had to be pulled out by their roots, while larger shrubs were chopped back and sponged with herbicide.

glossy buckthorn

Volunteers work to beat back the invasive glossy buckthorn. (Nature Conservancy of Canada)

The small tree looks very similar to many native plants, but the easiest way to spot them is by white marks on the bark.

The conservation group estimated they removed about 5,000 of the plants during Sunday's cull.

The shrub was noticed in Nova Scotia about 15 years ago. If gone unnoticed, the glossy buckthorn can grow to more than 12 metres, crowding out native species like pines and maples.

The Pugwash River Estuary, where NCC has protected 1,030 acres of land over the past 10 years, is a prime staging and migration route for a wide variety of waterfowl and shorebirds.

With files from CBC News