With many large sea and air ports, and a warm climate that many species can thrive in, Florida is a hotbed for invasive species, which create huge ecological and economic damage. There are an estimated 130 invasive species of amphibians and reptiles alone, and dozens of invasive plants, insects and mammals. The Florida Invasive Species Partnership (FISP) is hoping to stem the rising tide invasives in the state.
FISP is a collaborative effort between federal, state, and local agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations to connect private and public landowners to professional expertise and assistance programs to help combat non-native species. As they are fond of saying, “invasive exotic species know no boundaries,” so in order to be effective they must work across boundaries as well. FISP’s work can be broken down into four main areas: voluntary partnerships, such as Cooperative Species Management Areas; compiling a wealth of tools and resources; reporting and mapping invasive species; and providing information and contacts on incentive programs for private landowners.
Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs) are regional coalitions of stakeholders, both public and private, who work together to address invasive species management issues. By collaborating with its multi-agency partnership, FISP is able to provide CISMAs with communication and education forums through monthly webinars and annual CISMA meetings at the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s Symposium. There are currently seventeen CISMAs throughout Florida, with the Six Rivers CISMA – occupying the western most end of the panhandle - even extending into southern Alabama. If there is no CISMA in your area, contact your local working group, a list of which can be found on FISP’s CISMA page.
FISP also provides a comprehensive database of tools and resources for Florida landowners concerned about invasive species. They include information on how to identify, control and prevent invasives, create CISMAs, find additional resources for landowners, and how to be a responsible pet owner so you don’t become part of the problem.
As a partner in the Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System (EDD Maps) developed by the University of Georgia’s Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health, FISP works with other organizations in the southeastern U.S. to identify and map the distribution of invasive species.
Many agencies offer cost-sharing programs, grants and technical assistance to private landowners in Florida, many of which concern invasive species management. FISP provides an online tool, which is updated quarterly, to connect landowners with these programs. Landowners can enter their county, target species, and other information to retrieve a list of relevant programs. People can also enter their email address to get regular email updates on.