Cooperatove Conservation Project

Evolution of the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC)

Island Invasive Species Committees

Location: Far West Region: Hawaii

Project Summary: Maui Invasive Species Committee, an informal private-county-state-federal partnership, works to prevent serious alien plant and animal invasions threatening Haleakala National Park.
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Cooperative MISC field crew controlling Miconia near Hana, Maui, Hawaii. NPS Photo
Resource Challenge

The idea of working together on the island of Maui to implement early detection and rapid response to address the perceived threat from alien invasions was stimulated by the imminent threat to conservation lands from invasions of Miconia calvescens, Tibouchina herbacea, and Clidemia hirta -- three aggressively invasive species in the plant family Melastomataceae.  Land managers, agency leads and scientists were invited to join in dialogue to catalyze action across landownership boundaries. The Melastome Action Committee (MAC) was formed in 1991.   As dialogue proceeded and participation grew it became obvious that the need to secure funding to address multiple threats from both plant and animal invasions would be facilitated through partnership.

Maui Invasive Species Committee an informal private-county-state-federal partnership works to prevent serious alien plant and animal invasions threatening Haleakala National Park and other prime natural areas using the 728 square-mile island of Maui as a Management Area.   Funding for control programs was secured from the State of Hawaii, Maui County Office of Economic Development & Maui County Board of Water Supply then matched with funds from National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (Pulling Together Initiative), USFWS & USFS.   NPS has supplied scientific and management expertise, training, support through the Pacific Islands Exotic Plant Management Team and has been able to use non-federal MISC funding as a match for Cooperative Conservation Initiative funds to further protect the world class endemic natural and cultural resources harbored in Haleakala National Park.

Activities of the Committee include public education, providing critical invasive species information to the State of Hawaii and County of Maui, Departments of Interior and Agriculture and planning, coordinating, and facilitating cooperative chemical, mechanical and biological control programs.  MISC currently fields a team of over 25 crew leaders and technicians actively detecting and controlling incipient invasions of plants and animals effectively protecting the prime natural areas on the island of Maui. 











































Examples of Key Partners

Partners include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Maui County Board of Water Supply, Maui Land & Pineapple Co., The Nature Conservancy, the University of Hawaii, the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Maui County's Office of Economic Development, the Maui County Resource Conservation and Development Office of USDA, the USDA Forest Service, Haleakala National Park, the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Hawaii National Guard, and the Maui Farm Bureau.






























Results and Accomplishments

As a result of over 20 years of active ecosystem management starting with fencing and feral animal control and succeeded by alien plant control and rare plant stabilization, the biota of Haleakala National Park is among the richest and most ecologically intact surviving within the protection of the US National Park system. Fencing, feral animal removal, and strategic alien plant control has resulted in spectacular recovery of native vegetation and associated fauna. Thirteen endangered plants and five endangered birds are harbored on park lands along with dozens of rare plants and a plethora endemic arthropods.  Scores of ecosystem modifying non-native species threaten to invade native habitats at HALE potentially reversing this recovery.  A few examples include pampas grass, an over 2 meter tall grass which could transform the colorful Haleakala Crater, only home of the threatened Haleakala silversword into an alien pampa or grassland.  Miconia feared as the “green cancer” would transform arguably the best remaining Hawaiian rainforest, only remaing home of two critically endangered forest birds, the Maui Parrotbill and Akohekohe, into the green and purple monoculture that has become the fate of the forests in Tahiti.  Silk oak a large invasive tree is poised to invade and convert rich native dry forest into a single alien species stand.  Incipient invasions of these three ecosystem displacing super-weeds have been eradicated from park lands with a joint Park & Pacific Islands Exotic Plant Management Team effort but are poised for reinvasion.  Buffer zones to dispersal need to be established and maintained adjacent to park lands.  Invasive animals are perhaps an even more imminent threat.  The veiled chameleon has escaped from the illegal pet trade and is considered by island biologists to have the potential of decimating native bird populations as the brown tree snake has done on Guam.  The coqui frog with a loud, piercing nocturnal call and a huge appetite for insects (with populations consuming an average of 114,000 prey items/ha/night in native habitat) not only threatens sleepless nights and real estate prices but the highly evolved endemic arthropod fauna.  The Maui Invasive Species Committee has thus far been effective in  preventing wholesale invasion of Haleakala National Park and other prime conservation areas on Maui.  MISC uses an early detection - rapid response strategy or in more advanced invasions  creates invader free buffer zones around the prime natural areas. The challenge of combating invasive species is extreme with new species arriving on the islands daily. Evidence indicates that invasive species are much more likely to establish through Hawaii ports-of-entry than for other ports-of-entry in the U.S.


Following MISC, in the past decade other partnerships and groups have arisen to address significant gaps in Hawaii’s biosecurity system.  They include the recently formed Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) to provide state cabinet-level leadership; the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS) for interagency and NGO communications and collaborative projects; and the Invasive Species Committees (ISCs) for island-based rapid response.  The Hawaii Ecosystems at Risk website serves to disseminate information for these groups.


MISC was envisioned as a much-needed model. Following the MISC example now each of the islands has an “ISC”. The islands with ISCs protecting National Parks is as follows: BIISC (Big Island Invasive Species Committee) works to protect Hawaii Volcanoes, Kaloko Honokohau, Puu Kohola Heiau, and Puu Honua o Honaunau National Parks. MoMISC the (Molokai subcommittee of MISC) protects Kalaupapa National Park. And most recently ASIST (American Samoa Invasive Species Team) works to protect the National Park of American Samoa. Other partnerships and groups have more recently arisen to address significant gaps in Hawaii’s biosecurity system. They include the recently formed Hawaii Invasive Species Council (HISC) to provide state cabinet-level leadership and the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS) for interagency and NGO communications and collaborative projects.

Project Contact
Stephen Anderson
Natural Resource Program Manager
National Park Service
Haleakala National Park PO Box 369
Makawao, HI 96768
Teya Penniman
Maui Invasive Species Committee
P.O. Box 983
Makawao, HI 96768

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