Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council



To turn the tide of plant invasions in the Southeast, we must gain (1) greater awareness and knowledge, (2) organization, (2) funds, and (3) a broader resolve and commitment. The expert presentations at this conference will provide keys to all four needs. The current momentum is such that the Southeast Exotic Pest Plant Council (SE EPPC) has a unique responsibility to perform crucial roles to further fledging and developing efforts. It will take a sizable building of capacity in all four areas to be successful, and all organizations and agencies must be a part, while SE EPPC can be the catalyst. The current condition is dire with about half of our forestlands occupied by one or more severe invaders, while occupation on all other landuse and water-use remains unknown. Only by a collective effort of unprecedented proportions by all landowners and managers can this monumental invasion be dwarfed and our natural heritage saved. Here are some of the developments needed.

Greater Shared Awareness and Knowledge of the Problem and Solutions - Wise action will only come from "complete" understanding. In a democracy, this knowledge and realization must be accessible by all citizens, which in our capitalist system, can bring the market to bear on the problem. Widely accessible web-based Knowledge Networks are needed that provide connectivity, strategies, detection and occurrence reporting systems, and ready access to species identification, control techniques, pathway prevention, and cost-benefit/risk analyses. A directory of service providers searchable by areas is also needed. Many of these sub-systems and knowledge elements exist or are being created, and are linked or housed on,,, and The National Invasive Species Plan specifies that a national web network should be created and the start is at The Global Invasive Species Program continues to build a global database of far reaching alerts on potential invaders ( Species awareness comes from lists and the assessment protocol for ranking. NatureServe has recently begun to use a structured protocol to assess the approximately 3,500 non-native vascular plants recorded as occurring outside of cultivation in the United States and will be posted at

Enhanced research programs fostered by increased funding are required to generate crucial knowledge on the species and their taxonomy and genetic diversity, ecology, socio-economic impacts, and cost-benefit/risk analyses. It is imperative the researchers focus on the most critical unknowns due to the current paucity of research funds. Multi-discipline research teams are being formed in other regions to address socio-economic and ecological consequences and to devise strategies, and this is needed in the Southeast. A regional center for invasive plant management could foster and coordinate multi-discipline efforts and garnering grant funds. The pace of research is slower than many rates of invasion, thus eradication programs must progress with incomplete knowledge while reluctant partners must appreciate this and not halt actions due to the absence of formally published reports.

"Real-time" tracking and web displays of invasive plant areas of occupation and spread are required for cost-benefit/risk analyses as well as for the planning and enactment of effective counter-attacks. Further, these data are imperative for sharing with the horticultural industry to document invasiveness as spelled-out in the St. Louis Declaration, www.centerforplant These and other efforts to demonstrate invasiveness should foster "agreed to steps" to address production and stop spread from extended plantings.

A growing base of knowledge through syntheses is steadily accruing at all levels, especially at the national level, which implores the need for collective cooperative action. The National Invasive Species Plan 2001 by the National Invasive Species Council specifies needed organization, policies, and actions. In the appendix of the plan is a summary of all laws that could currently be brought to bear today if enforced and funded. Late in 2004, the proceedings were published in Weed Technology (Volume 18) of the international conference on invasive plants held at Ft. Lauderdale in 2003, Invasive Plants in Natural and Managed Systems. This invaluable proceedings reveals parts of the global resources, knowledge and country programs on invasive plants that have formed over the past 10 years. National invasive plant strategies and programs by Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand give insights into those needed here. Also revealed are shortcomings of our national system for preventing invasive introductions and needed steps to correct this, while some modifications are currently in the public review phase.

Organizing Ourselves -

Only through timely connectivity and collectivity can we surmount this rapidly developing problem quickly enough. Interconnecting networks of organization are needed with well-defined working levels at the international, national, state, and sub-state levels. In the Southeast, each state will be a basic working unit, with all efforts aimed at supporting work on the ground. National generated appropriations come to the state agencies through specified programs and grants. State agencies will act according to these and state generated programs and appropriations, such as occurs in Florida with the Department of Environmental Protection taking lead responsibilities.

State agencies with NGO participation would benefit by tiered coordination similar to that being organized in Mississippi. State agency heads will serve on a State executive committee on invasive species, which will meet regularly to be informed of the invasion status, program and action items needed. Their staff representatives form a technical steering committee that go deeper into strategy formulation, coordination, grant funding, and joint action. A third level is an advisory council composed of informed citizens, much like the state EPPC's.

The State EPPC's can promote and assist states to become organized into these tiers and perform needed tasks during the interim. As an example, the Alabama Invasive Plant Council's Ten Worst Invasive Plants List has served to guide construction and focus for the USDA NRCS's Environmental Quality Program's incentives program for landowners controlling invasive plants. State EPPC invasive lists are needed to guide state and NGO efforts, especially when lists are categorized by severity and offer insightful strategies useful for prioritization. Also these lists must be broad enough to contain invasive species for all impacted sectors and clearly state where some species are now crops for one sector and are invasive in others. These insights should foster wiser plant choices. These lists will focus species needs for cost-benefit and risk analyses. Three other lists (spreadsheets of information) require formulation: (1) recognized invasive species in the plant trade, (2) alternative noninvasive plants as substitutes, and (3) special habitats in a state prioritized by risk of invasion. The state EPPC's can work through listing committees composed of representatives for all impacted sectors, the horticultural industry, and agency/university researchers.

SE EPPC can perform a vital role in the region until formal organization occurs. SE EPPC should form a regional "listing committee" to consolidate state lists and devise regional strategies, which has been started at A more robust SE EPPC website could provide needed information and resource connections to supplement other web resources. There are several examples of "list serves" becoming increasing valuable for quick information flow at the national level, i.e., FICMNEW and IUCN. A representative of SE EPPC could do the same for the region by resending "to all", breaking news, developments, and insights.

Invasive Species Strategic Plans are needed by agencies and NGO's to spell out organization, direction, and action items, such as formulated by the USDA Forest Service for the national level and southern region in 2004. A high priority organizational need is the formation of an Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) network. This network is comprised of on-the-ground volunteers and professionals trained to recognize new invaders in an area and a network of experts that respond to their sightings. Samples and sighting information is passed upward for identification, risk assessment, and reporting. After appropriate and timely analyses, a planned response is enacted. Only in this manner can a logical strategy be enacted to prevent new invasions and prevent spread to new locations.

Funding, Funding, Funding -

Funds are the needed as fuel knowledge acquisition and dissemination as well as drawing partners into effective networks of organization. Volunteers will only provide a limited effort to this monumental problem, albeit that dedicated efforts are being made to combat invasions everyday by essentially voluntarily actions. Only by informing and promoting action by our congressional leadership and policy makers will funds be made available, especially in our "often left out" region. SE EPPC and the state EPPC's are 501(c)3 organizations that must shoulder the responsibility and opportunity to lead communications with these key leaders. Being knowledgeable and organized will speak loudly and distinctly to our representatives. Through public education programs, the severity and impacts of the problem will incite a broader call for effective programs--Bring it to the Backyard.

Resolve and Commitment -

Dr. Dan Simberloff has argued that we are aiming too low in setting goals relative to the control and eradication of invading populations. He concludes that this is due as much to attitude and commitment as to our understanding. The rapidity of severe invasions has caught most off guard, while the gradual spread of familiar invaders like kudzu has fostered a degree of resignation. We must turn this attitude around through successful programs and actions.

University of Georgia The Bugwood Network Forestry Images   The Bugwood Network - The University of Georgia
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and Warnell School of Forest Resources
Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.       Page last modified: Monday, April 29, 2002
Questions and/or comments to: