Melaleuca quinquenervia (melaleuca) is an invasive, exotic tree that has proliferated in Florida for approximately 100 years and now occupies more than 400,000 acres of wetland, riparian and, to a lesser degree, agricultural, systems in the state. Melaleuca is competitively superior to most, if not all, native plants and rangeland grasses, with infestations resulting in degradation of native wildlife habitats and waterways, including portions of the Everglades National Park, and of the limited grazing lands in South Florida.
Economists and ecologists estimate the value of services provided by those wetlands invaded by melaleuca to be worth $14,785 per hectare per year. Assuming minimal losses of only 1% of these services arising from current melaleuca infestations, the lost value would total nearly $30 million per year. Furthermore, melaleuca is continuing to invade new areas causing accelerated degradation of wetlands. The South Florida Water Management District alone spent nearly $22 million to control this tree from 1991 through 2001. In addition, melaleuca threatens the biodiversity of Florida’s Everglades which, because it is so unique, has been designated a World Heritage ecosystem by UNESCO, an International Biosphere Reserve, and is on the RAMSAR list of wetland sites of international importance. Effective and long-term management of this invasive tree is obviously very important for the economy and ecology of the state.
The Area-wide Management and Evaluation of Melaleuca
The Area-wide Management and Evaluation of Melaleuca quinquenervia (TAME Melaleuca) was established in 2001 as a collaborative, multi-agency project under the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Area-wide Pest Management Initiative.
What Is An “Area-wide” Project?
Area-wide pest management applies a combination of control tactics across affected ecological regions, rather than on a site-by-site basis. Despite management successes on most public lands, melaleuca continues to increase on private lands. An area-wide integration of available control techniques is required for effective, long-term melaleuca management on all types of lands.
TAME Melaleuca Project Objectives:
- Demonstrate the integration of ecologically and economically sustainable melaleuca control to public and private land managers.
Promote their adoption and integration throughout South Florida.
Apply integrated pest management tactics at demonstration sites across South Florida.
Develop outreach projects directed at land managers, extension personnel, government agencies, and the general public.