Bocilla Islands Conservancy  Inc.  P.O. Box 881, Placida, Florida 33946

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Bocilla Islands Conservancy Position Paper on Australian Pine Trees

               

                As part of its mission, The Bocilla Islands Conservancy, Inc. ("BICI") is dedicated to the preservation and protection of the unique natural resources and the quality of life for those who live on the Palm, Knight, and Don Pedro Island ecosystem. This means providing protection for native plant and animal life as well as educating those who visit, live, or work on and around the barrier islands. One issue of primary importance is identification and systematic elimination of invasive or exotic species that threaten native species and otherwise endanger the ecosystem. One such species is the Australian Pine Tree.

                The following is the official BICI position on Australian Pine trees on our barrier islands.

1. The Australian Pine was originally introduced to Florida as a salt-tolerant, tall, fast-growing tree that could provide shade and as a coastal windbreak. Like many invasive species, the original good intention has been subsumed by the problems caused by these trees.[1]

2. The species' aggressive growth results in its spread into natural areas, out-competing native plants and smothering them under a heavy blanket of needle-like litter. In short order, Australian Pines kill the understory plants around them.[2] This is a threat not only to native plants, but also all native animal and insect species that depend upon native plants for food and habitat.

3. The Australian pine is classified by State of Florida as a noxious weed and Florida expressly prohibits people from cultivating or planting it.[3] The Australian Pine is on both the Florida Noxious Weed List and the Florida Prohibited Aquatic Plants List.[4] Australian Pines are "invasive exotics that are altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives."[5]

4. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission[6] cites specific environmental damage caused by Australian pine to beach communities as follows:

  • Australian pine invasions often displace native beach plant communities that provide critical wildlife habitat for threatened and endangered plant and animal species.

  • Australian pine trees can encourage beach erosion by displacing deep-rooted vegetation.

  • Australian pine tree's dense shallow root system interferes with the ability of the endangered American crocodiles and sea turtles to construct coastal nests.

  • Australian pine forests provide little or no native wildlife habitat

 

5. Charlotte County lists the Australian Pine as a tree of "undesirable or exotic species which disrupt natural habitats or are otherwise destructive" and prohibits the planting of Australian Pine trees in the County.[7]

6. The University of Florida encourages all property owners to remove Australian Pines to prevent them from spreading their seeds into natural areas.[8]

7. Australian Pines present a danger to residents and property in the event of storm winds or erosion, as their size and stature can result in deadly or costly human or property damage during storms. 

IN LIGHT OF THE UNIVERSAL ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE DANGERS AND UNDESIRABLE COMPONENTS OF THE AUSTRALIAN PINE AMONG RESPONSIBLE AGENCIES AND SCHOLARS AND THE FRAGILE NATURE OF OUR BARRIER ISLAND ECOSYSTEM, BICI SUPPORTS AND ENCOURAGES THE SYSTEMATIC REMOVAL OF ALL AUSTRALIAN PINES FROM THE PALM, KNIGHT, AND DON PEDRO ISLAND ECOSYSTEM.

July, 2018

 

By Action of the Board of Directors, Bocilla Islands Conservancy, Inc.

For the Board:  Barbara DeYulio, President