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Science and Technology Based Management of Incipient Miconia Utilizing Herbicide Ballistic Technology

Herbicide Ballistic Technology is able to protect remote, ecologically rich, forested areas from invasive plant species at relatively low cost

Miconia calvescens, a tree native to South and Central America, is highly invasive in Hawai‘i—it can quickly form thick monotypic stands up to 50 feet tall. A single plant produces up to 3 million seeds several times a year, and the seed bank can remain viable for decades. Miconia is found on several islands throughout the State but is especially prevalent in the East Maui watershed; the invasion currently affects almost 40,000 acres. Over the past two decades, Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) has been using a combination of ground crew control and aerial application of herbicide via spray ball to prevent further spread of miconia. However, many areas of the watershed are inaccessible by foot and/or are not well suited for the spray ball technology. Herbicide Ballistic Technology (HBT), recently developed by Dr. James Leary (UH CTAHR), helps to fill that gap. The HBT platform delivers precise amounts of herbicide in projectiles fired from a helicopter at invasive trees. UHERO’s Project Environment will be working with CTAHR and MISC to assess the cost-effectiveness of HBT. In addition to protecting otherwise inaccessible areas, HBT creates an opportunity to combine aerial surveillance with treatment, which reduces total management costs over tens of thousands of acres.

Supported by: Hawai‘i Invasive Species Council