Upland Pine, Blackwater River State Forest. Photo by Gary Knight

Friday, December 4, 2015

Who's Your CISMA?

Invasive, non-native plants and animals are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and the ecological integrity of our natural areas, and therefore are a focus for FNAI.  There are many groups doing exceptional work related to invasive species, and much of that work in Florida and around the country is coordinated by regional collaborations called Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas or CISMAS.  CISMAs are volunteer collaborations of professionals, private landowners, and concerned citizens who believe that more can get done when working together.  Participants may work for different private and public organizations with differing job duties and often differing priorities.  However, everyone unites in their efforts to eradicate or control invasive species across fencelines and political boundaries.  Bringing resources together is often a more cost-effective approach to manage the problem.

CISMA boundaries in Florida.

There are two primary ways in which CISMAs can make a difference.  First, there is direct control of invasive species through scheduled workdays.  Teams will work together to kill invasive plants (hand pulling or treating with herbicide) or do surveys to find out and document where the invasive species may be present.  Second, CISMAs participate in public events to educate the community and local land managers on the problems associated with invasive species.  Many people don’t even know that the invasive species they have in their own yard are causing a problem for conservation lands nearby! 

A CISMA team workday.

We encourage anyone interested in the conservation of Florida’s biodiversity to become familiar with the CISMA in your area.  To find out who to contact, visit the Florida Invasive Species Partnership (FISP) website.  FISP is the umbrella organization over all of the Florida CISMAs.  FNAI is a key partner in this process; our invasive species contacts actively working with the CISMAs are Gregg Walker and Greg Jubinsky.