Gulf Coastal Plain Ecosystem Partnership Tackles Invasive Plants

June 08, 2015 Img 1129 Image 1 Thumb

By Vernon Compton and Mike Thompson, The Longleaf Alliance

Invasive non-native plants have been identified as a critical source of stress across the GCPEP landscape.  These species change community structure and composition and alter hydrological and fire regimes, resulting in impacts to wildlife habitat.  High ecological and economic costs of this stress have been identified by both private and public land managers.  Increasing emphasis is being placed on the control of invasive species through the efforts of Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) partners, including the Six Rivers CISMA that wraps around the GCPEP landscape.  Major invasives in the landscape include Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera), Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense), cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica), and Japanese climbing fern (Lygodium japonicum).  To address the control of these invasive plant species, the GCPEP partners have identified invasives treatment as a priority for the Ecosystem Support Team (EST).  

The EST has worked with public and private landowners to control hundreds of acres of invasive plants, including a recent effort in the Jones Swamp managed by Escambia County in Florida.  Jones Swamp, part of a greenway being developed by Escambia County, has numerous invasives that the county has been tackling.  The EST assisted with control of Chinese tallow tree, many of which were large trees capable of producing extremely large seed crops, on 39 acres of the swamp.  Other GCPEP partners have been identifying and treating invasive species and are making a dent on their advancement.  In addition, three summer interns have been hired by the LLA to assist in invasive species control through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Longleaf Stewardship Fund grant.  An excellent document for the control of invasive plants is A Management Guide for Invasive Plants in Southern Forests, a USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station General Technical Report SRS-131 which may be downloaded at http://www.srs.fs.fed.us/pubs/gtr/gtr_srs131.pdf.  In addition, a very helpful and easy to use phone app. titled Invasive Plants in Southern Forests was also developed by the Southern Research Station.

Image 1:  EST Team Member, Brian Schumann, using chainsaw to remove non-native invasive Chinese tallow tree.  Photo by Mike Thompson.

 

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