About 200 invasive weed experts from around the world will convene next week on Hawai`i Island for the XIII International Symposium on Biological Control of Weeds. The symposium begins on Sunday, September 11th through Friday, September 16th at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort and Spa on the Kohala Coast. This international conference is held once every four years and is the premier international forum for scientists and managers working in biological control of weeds around the world.
Biological control, which utilizes natural plant enemies and/or diseases, is needed in natural and managed ecosystems worldwide as a tool for managing invasive plant species that are too widespread and expensive to control using herbicides and/or mechanical removal methods. Although challenging to implement, effective biocontrol can provide long-term, large-scale, highly selective control of otherwise prolific weeds. Current research methods thoroughly test potential biocontrol agents prior to release to ensure that they only attack the target weed and not other native or beneficial plants or animals.
“Biological control is a necessary tool for protecting our native forests from highly invasive plants,” said Tracy Johnson, PhD, research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USDA-FS) and co-chair of the symposium. “This meeting in Hawai`i will provide a unique opportunity to draw on worldwide expertise to create new solutions for our worst weeds.”
“It is so appropriate that Hawai`i hosts this important symposium since the biological control of weeds actually began in Hawai`i,” said Neil Reimer, PhD, Plant Pest Control manager for the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA). “With the tight economy and the Department of Agriculture’s diminished resources, the collaboration between states and nations becomes even more important.”
The Kingdom of Hawai`i was a world leader in biocontrol with successful introductions of a beetle to control cottony cushion scale in 1890. After Hawai`i became a U.S. territory in 1900, biological control methods progressed with the introduction of several insect species to control lantana in 1902. Since then, researchers in Hawai`i continue to be internationally recognized in biological control of weeds and plant pests and have collaborated with colleagues worldwide on the biological control of invasive weeds such as miconia, fireweed, fountain grass, banana poka, ivy gourd and gorse, among others. Many of those who have collaborated with Hawai`i researchers are attending the conference from the U.S. Mainland and countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom, Brazil, Costa Rica, and South Africa.
The conference is hosted by HDOA, USDA-FS, and the University of Hawai`i at Hilo Conference Center.
Sponsors of the conference include: USDA-FS Pacific Southwest Research Station, Hawai`i County Department of Research & Development, Hawaiian Electric Company & Hawai`i Electric Light Company, Landcare Research Manaaki Whenua (New Zealand), U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Island Ecosystem Research Center, Hawaii Forest and Trail, Destination Hilo, HDOA, Maui Invasive Species Committee, University of Hawai`i at Hilo Conference Center.
To view the conference agenda and information go to: http://isbcw2011.uhhconferencecenter.com/
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Filed under: Agriculture, aloha, Announcements, Big Island, Environment, Hawaii, State Affairs Tagged: | Biological Control of Weeds, Biological pest control, Invasive Species, U.S. Department of Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture