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Roseate Spoonbill

Why Florida Needs More GI-BMP and FFL

When I first started at UF/IFAS, these acronyms meant nothing to me.

It took me some time to really understand what they stood for.  Now, I see how important they are.
GI-BMP stands for “Green Industries Best Management Practices”:

“What, exactly, is meant by the phrase Green Industries? Simply put, only you, the people working every day, mowing, pruning, planting, weeding, fertilizing, watering, taking care of pest problems, and teaching your customers how to properly care for their lawn, can make a difference in the effects our landscapes have on our natural resources. Governments can regulate and educators can teach, but only the individual working in the landscape can actually make a difference. By the end of this training, you will be able to explain the role that Green Industries professionals perform in protecting Florida’s water and environmental resources.” (excerpt taken from Module 1 of the GI-BMP training)

The GI-BMP is a joint effort with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the UF/IFAS Florida Friendly Landscaping Program (FFL) with a grant from the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (EPA).  All these entities and acronyms banding together usually mean something important needs to be done.

Maintaining healthy water quality has never been more critical.  Take, for instance this recent headline in the Miami Herald:

They’re not in the mood. Toxins are turning off great egrets mating in the Everglades

“Heavy metals and other contaminants can disrupt hormones, which, in turn, can affect courtship, breeding propensity and even parental behavior of vertebrates, said the study that was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology.”  Read more here.

Roseate Spoonbill taking flight

Aquatic birds such as this Roseate Spoonbill, often fall victim to the toxins in the water and the bio-accumulation of them in the foods they eat. (Photo courtesy of Al Bengston)

As members of the Green Industry, we must take responsibility for how we steward the environment we work in.  No other industry has its boots on the ground in such an intimate way with the earth itself. 

We know that excessive nutrients in water bodies are a pollutant and can degrade aquatic environments.  Because of this, green industry professionals in the state of Florida are required to obtain a special license from FDACS called the Limited Certification for Urban Landscape Commercial Fertilizer (LUF).

To obtain this license you must first attend the GI-BMP 6-hour training.  This training is offered throughout the state at county extension offices and also on line, in English, Spanish and Creole.  This ensures that everyone who fertilizes in the landscape is trained in the correct way to apply it.  This protects the water quality for all of us!

The GI-BMP is also used to obtain 4 CEUs for other pesticide applicator licenses.  Proper pesticide application is addressed in the training, along with best management practices in irrigation, maintenance of landscapes and a review of the 9 Florida Friendly Landscaping principles.

Here is a link to the GI-BMP office site which lists all the classes being offered throughout the state. Students, homeowners and ecology minded people are also encouraged to take this course.  Most of the available land is privately owned.  We can all make a difference by learning the best ways to care for our environment.

Remember, we are vertebrates, too.  If water quality and environmental contamination is adversely affecting herons, what is it doing to us and to future generations?


6 Comments on “Why Florida Needs More GI-BMP and FFL

  1. Thank you for spreading the word out Donna. It is important that Landscapers and even the general public understands the Green Industries Best Management Practices for the protection of our water bodies.

  2. Thank YOU Donna! Perhaps this course could be ‘promoted’ to all the garden clubs in Florida? I feel that it would be VERY beneficial to include garden club members who are interested in our Florida Environment, are active within our communities, HOA’s and local governments. Garden Club members in fact are wonderful ‘activists’ for the environment. Why not include them in the promotion of GI-BMP courses? Thank you for all you do to keep our beautiful state safe and protected.

    • Thank you, Judy! I will look into how we can promote this program and possibly do more collaboration with the Garden Clubs throughout our state. Good thinking.

  3. Great article Donna. Thanks for being an informed and understandable voice for our natural world. We must guard and protect it so it can carry on productively for us! Kudos to all our boots on the ground voices.

    • Thank you, Mary! Thanks to you as well, as a Master Gardener Volunteer and all you also do to educate on best management practices.

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