Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Florida Transportation Department Agrees to Help Battle Destructive Plants

from the Nature Conservancy...

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, FL—October 26, 2006—Florida's Department of Transportation (FDOT) has joined an effort promoted by The Nature Conservancy to control invasive species, agreeing, among other things, to encourage use of alternative plants in landscape projects. The Department is the first government agency in the country to sign on.
The FDOT refined the Voluntary Codes of Conduct developed for government agencies and will incorporate them in their statewide policy for roadside landscaping and other related business practices. The codes were developed as part of the 2001 St. Louis Declaration, an assemblage of horticulture industry leaders and environmentalists who recognized the need for a collaborative response to the number one threat to biodiversity — invasive species that escape from gardens and landscapes and overtake native plants. The Conservancy is working to implement the codes.
In Florida, the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association suggested that the most effective approach to reduce the commercial reliance on invasive species is to reduce demand for those species. FDOT is one of the largest consumers of plants in the state. The Lowe’s home improvement chain in Florida has also agreed to a set of Voluntary Codes of Conduct.
“FDOT has shown real leadership among state and federal agencies in adopting a set of codes and in responsibly managing vegetation on rights-of-way. Negative impacts from invasive plants on public and private lands in Florida should be reduced as a result. We are excited to have worked with the department on this proactive approach to a problem that is costing the state of Florida millions of dollars,” said Valerie Vartanian, the Conservancy’s horticulture liaison.
In adopting the codes, FDOT agreed to identify known invaders, develop specifications to lessen their impacts, provide staff training on invasive plant identification and management, dispose of unwanted invasives using appropriate safeguards, and support the development of environmentally sound methods to manage invasive plants. FDOT also agreed to phase out the use of invasive plants and encourage plant nurseries to increase availability of non-invasives, and will develop an effective, enforceable plan to manage and remove invasive plants from the right-of-way.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, nonprofit organization that preserves plants, animals and natural communities representing the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. With funding from the voter approved Florida Forever program and our generous donors the Conservancy has helped protect more than 1.1 million acres in Florida since 1961.


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