Posted April 19, 2016 by Rachel Smith
Spring is here! As the cool mornings drift away, and the warmer temperatures encourage you outside, you may notice there is a lot of work to do in your yard. Well, the same goes for KISC. The entire island is much like our backyard. While invasive species know no boundaries, KISC works across the island on private, federal, state, and county lands. And, my oh my, we have been busy this spring. The next few blog posts will highlight some of our specific targets, present updates on each, and explain what we’ve been up to lately.
First off, KISC recently launched our newest outreach project, and we are so excited! The Pono Endorsement Program, crafted by the minds of KISC, BIISC, and Plant Pono staff, is finally on the ground and running…quickly. This program seeks to address invasive species directly linked to the nursery and landscaping trade. Over the years invasive species have found their way to Kauai through a number of pathways, but one of the most common pathways is through the horticultural industry. Pests like Little Fire Ant (LFA) and Coqui frog were both accidentally introduced through the plant trade, by way of them hitching a ride in the soil media of plants shipped from out-of-state. The Pono Endorsement Program offers Kauai nurseries and landscapers scientifically based strategies and procedures to follow that will prevent new introductions of pests like LFA and Coqui, while also preventing the spread of already established weeds.
One of the great parts of the Pono Endorsement Program is that it is voluntary and non-regulatory. It is a partnership between KISC, Plant Pono, and any nursery or landscaping business. Pono Endorsed businesses are those who practice and promote making “pono” plant decisions that will benefit the health and well being of Kauai.
Here’s how it works: A nursery or landscaping business voluntarily chooses to become endorsed. Each business works with an Endorsement Program representative to develop a plan to work with their specific business. The nursery or landscaper business owner will agree to follow “pono commitments”, and choose best management practices to prevent the spread and introduction of invasive species. Some examples of these include:
- Pre-screen any new plants using the Hawaii Pacific Weed Risk Assessment, to determine a plant’s invasiveness
- Attempt to source all plants locally or from other Pono Endorsed Businesses
- Survey and inspect all incoming material for Coqui and LFA
- Disinfect gear and equipment between work sites
- Discontinue and phase out specifically listed invasive plants (click here to view these lists)
So why plant pono, you ask? Well, nursery and landscaping businesses are in the best position to prevent the spread of invasive pests. Invasive ornamental plants commonly spread from their intended gardens. Even if they are not seen spreading in your yard, their spores, seeds, and viney arms can quickly escape into the forest. Often times, many of these beautiful ornamental plants cause unintended harm to the agriculture industry, livestock, and Hawaii’s native and delicate ecosystem.
Between radio commercials, interviews, obtaining all necessary materials, and producing a final product, the Pono Endorsement Program has kept KISC’s outreach staff quite busy this spring, but it has paid off. The Kauai community can now take the first step towards implementing our very own non-regulated form of biosecurity. KISC has developed a way for Kauai residents and local business owners to take ownership and recognition in helping to protect Kauai from invasive species. Baby steps, we know. While there are still many other pathways for invasive species introduction, this is one way that you can take action now. Next time you go shopping for plants, landscaping material, or hire a landscaper, look for the pono logo! Choose Pono Endorsed businesses, because they are taking steps to protect Kauai from your backyard.