Alien species are the second greatest threat to the biological diversity and existance of natural ecosystems in Florida, surpassed only by direct habitat destruction!
Florida's terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems are being invaded by a host of unwanted exotic plants - hundreds of species of plants from all over the world are now established in Florida.
These biological pollutants are
having severe negative impacts on the state costing the citizens of
Florida millions of $$$ annually.
........... and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
There are literally dozens of other unwanted plant invaders established and distrupting natural ecosystems in Florida and the list is growing ................
Some others include:
The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council maintains a list of Florida's most invasive plant species - check it out - you may be surprised
How do they get here?
What can be done?
MORE LINKS - to help you get a better understanding of this growing problem.
The University of Florida Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants - hosting the world's largest information resource of its kind. Home of the Aquatic, Wetland and Invasive Plant Information Retrieval System (APIRS), great photos and information on dozens of species, as well as links to many other sites
Exotic Pest Plant Council (FLEPPC) is a coalition of organizations
whose goals are directed toward building public awareness about the serious
threat invasive plants pose to native ecosystems, securing
funding and support for control and management of exotic plants, and developing integrated management and control methods to prevent the spread of exotic pest plants throughout Florida and the United States. Lots of great information.
County Natural Resources Department - Exotic Plant Management
website - features profiles on a number of exotic invaders as well as discussion on exotics and tips on their control.
Australian Plants as Weeds - an interesting Australian site devoted to the halting the spread of "ugly Australians" which have become weeds in other places.
The Alien Plant Working Group provides information for the general public, land managers, researchers, and others on the serious threat and impacts of invasive alien (exotic, non-native) plants to the native flora, fauna, and natural ecosystems of the United States. Has a good listing of plants by common name with links to further information.
Thanks to a $25 million, 10-year effort coordinated by several state and federal agencies, the number of acres of land covered by melaleuca in South Florida has declined by nearly a third.
The recently released "Melaleuca Management Plan: 10 Years of Successful Melaleuca Management in South Florida, 1988-1998" contains this information plus recommendations from the interagency Melaleuca Task Force. The report was published by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council and edited by Francois B. Laroche, a senior environmental scientist at the South Florida Water Management District.
In 1993, 52 percent of all melaleuca in South Florida was found on public land (252,008 acres), while 48 percent was on private land. Four years later, in 1997, 35 percent of all live melaleuca in South Florida was found on public land (137,181 acres) and 65 percent on private land. A combination of biological, chemical, mechanical, and physical control methods is directly responsible for this reduction.
The most well known feature of this management program has been the introduction of "biological control agents," or insects, from Australia. Melaleuca spread so quickly in South Florida after its introduction 100 years ago because it had no known natural enemies. In Australia, insects helped keep melaleuca growth in check. The U.S. Department of Agriculture introduced one of these insects, the snout-nosed beetle, in 1997 in South Florida after a successful eight-year quarantine program (including two years for federal approvals). The beetle already is slowing the spread of new seedlings. More Australian insects are now in the quarantine pipeline.
However, chemical herbicides currently are the most effective technique available for the short term, and large areas of trees can be treated at a reasonable cost. If the other insects are successful as expected, they and the snout-nosed beetle will provide the best and cheapest long-term solution to the overall problem. They also will allow other technologies to be redirected toward eradicating South Florida's many invasive plants.
"We could not have done much of this work without the continued support of the melaleuca eradication program by Congress and the Florida Legislature," said Frank Finch, District executive director. "We also thank all the agencies involved in the task force for their support of eradication on public lands."
Melaleuca's rapid, aggressive expansion has altered thousands of acres in the Everglades by replacing native tree islands, sawgrass marshes, wet prairies, and aquatic sloughs. Mature melaleuca trees commonly form dense stands that virtually crowd out all other native plant and animal species, especially in disturbed areas. Their growth pattern also allows wildfires to spread more quickly and at a higher temperature.
The Melaleuca Task Force says the uncontrolled expansion of the trees is one of the most serious ecological threats to the biological integrity of South Florida's natural systems. The District created the task force in 1990 in cooperation with the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council. The group published its first "melaleuca management plan" that year. This current plan, the third edition, includes the technological advances and operational progress that have occurred in the past 10 years.
The task force includes scientists from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection; National Park Service; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; USDA; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Miami-Dade, Lee, and Palm Beach counties; the University of Florida; the University of Miami; and the District.
The 1999 plan includes the following recommendations:
1.securing money to import more insects
for testing and to build and staff a
permanent quarantine facility;
2.continuing control on public lands and increasing focus on other areas needing more melaleuca eradication; and
3.using the support of Exotic Pest Plant Council to lobby the state Legislature and Congress to provide more money and
enact more laws to manage melaleuca and other pest plants.
In the past eight years, the District budgeted
$14,277,794 to fight melaleuca
infestations. Approximately 58 percent, or $8,312,794, came from other sources besides District ad valorem funds. These include Florida Power & Light Co. mitigation funds, Surface Water Improvement and Management funds, the Corps, and a DEP cost-sharing program that provided approximately $5.5 million. SWIM and Corps money is for Lake Okeechobee melaleuca eradication only. At the current level of funding, melaleuca could be eliminated from the water conservation areas and Lake Okeechobee within the next five to 10 years.
Watch this site - more to come.....
Pardon our dust.