Agencies join forces to educate, urge action during National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) and Florida Invasive Species Council (FISC) are joining forces with Weed Wrangle and the University of Florida’s School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences (SFFGS) to spotlight National Invasive Species Awareness Week (NISAW) happening from Feb. 26 through March 3, 2024.

FISC Liaison Officer and Invasive Species Extension Coordinator at the University of Florida Deborah Stone says the effort will be two-fold. “We want to make people more aware of all the ways invasive species impact our lives,” she said. “And what they can do to help protect the native flora and fauna of Florida.” 

Experts at UF’s Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants consider Florida a “poster child for invasives” because of miles of coastline, 15 ports of entry, thousands of daily visitors, and a subtropical climate that is easy for plants and animals to survive and thrive in. 

According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), “Invasive non-native plants threaten Florida’s natural areas because they are fast-moving, adaptable, aggressive and resist efforts to eliminate or control them. 

“The plants spread quickly, unchecked by the bugs, disease and other limiting factors they face in their native lands.”Invasive, non-native species take up space and resources such as water and interrupt ecosystems putting native species at risk.   

The damaging ecological impacts of invasive species also cause economic downfalls. In 2022, agriculture in the U.S. lost $509 billion due to invasive species, according to the U. S. Geological Society (USGS).    

Stone, who is also a doctoral candidate in Forest Resources and Conservation at UF’s School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatics Sciences, is passionate about developing support tools that help prioritize invasive species management decisions. 

Her advice for fending off invasive species starts with three steps. 

  1. Remove invasive plants from your yard, patio, etc. and encourage your neighborhood, HOA, city, and county to do the same. Replace them with native or Florida friendly plants.
  2. Clean your equipment and tools every time you go recreate outdoors in case seeds have hitched a ride.
  3. Volunteer at workdays to help survey for or even remove invasive plants. There are lots of Weed Wrangle events in Florida this spring and many different Cooperative Invasive Species Management Areas (CISMAs) have workdays throughout the year.

In the upcoming campaign which will post across social media platforms including Facebook, X, and Instagram, topics will range from a healthy vs. invaded Florida ravine comparison, invasives impacts on aquatic ecosystems, how the Asian Citrus Psyllid affects agriculture, how invasive species move around the state, and a list of upcoming Weed Wrangle events to participate in.  

For more information, reach Deborah Stone at debitharp@ufl.ed

The mission of the Florida Invasive Species Council is to reduce the impacts of invasive plants in Florida through the exchange of scientific, educational, and technical information. Learn more about FISC here. 

The Mission of the Florida Native Plant Society is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida. FNPS here. 


Posted: February 23, 2024

Category: Invasive Species
Tags: FFGS, Forest Fisheries And Geomatics Sciences, Invasive Species, School Of Forest Fisheries And Geomatics Sciences, SFFGS

Subscribe For More Great Content

IFAS Blogs Categories