Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Code Red for Green Thumbs

Are you gardening by the codes? Most likely you are, but in case you aren’t, it’s time to get educated.

The Voluntary Codes of Conduct are recommended by the Center for Plant Conservation for those participating in various aspects of horticulture. These guidelines are designed to promote education about invasive species and to encourage affiliated groups to take appropriate action in preventing the spread of invasive species. One of the key purposes behind the codes is to make groups self-regulating so that there will be less need for government regulation when problems from invasive species become severe.

This week I proposed that the Hawai’i Island Master Gardeners Association adopt the Voluntary Codes of Conduct for the Gardening Public, and I’m happy to report that they voted for it. This puts them at forefront among organizations that are working to educate the people of Hawai’i about their kuleana – their responsibility – to preserve our native ecosystems and watersheds.

The Center developed several professional Voluntary Codes of Conduct. There are codes of conduct geared for five specific groups: Government, Nursery Professionals, Landscape Architects, Botanic Gardens and Arboreta, and the Gardening Public. So far over 45 major groups across the nation have endorsed these codes, including influential nurserymen and landscape architect associations, botanic gardens and garden clubs. The University of Hawai'i Lyon Arboretum in Honolulu is the first botanic garden in Hawai'i to adopt the codes. See a list of all the groups here.

I hope that you, too, will make a personal commitment to adopt the Voluntary Codes of Conduct for the Gardening Public, and tell others about them, too. Unlike the continent, Hawai’i is a small, isolated place; change, good or bad, affects us in a big way. The choices you make even in the gentle pastime of gardening can have a major impact in the quality of life that surrounds you.

Voluntary Codes of Conduct for Gardening Public
  • Ask for only non-invasive species when you acquire plants. Plant only environmentally safe species in your gardens. Work towards and promote new landscape design that is friendly to regional ecosystems.
  • Seek information on which species are invasive in your area. Sources could include botanical gardens, horticulturists, conservationists, and government agencies. Remove invasive species from your land and replace them with non-invasive species suited to your site and needs.
  • Do not trade plants with other gardeners if you know they are species with invasive characteristics.
  • Request that botanical gardens and nurseries promote, display and sell only non-invasive species.
  • Help educate your community and other gardeners in your area through personal contact, and in such settings as garden clubs and other civic groups.
  • Ask garden writers and other media to emphasize the problem of invasive species and provide information. Request that garden writers promote only non-invasive species.
  • Invite speakers knowledgeable on the invasive species issue to speak to garden clubs, master gardeners, schools and other community groups.
  • Seek the best information on control of invasive plant species and organize neighborhood work groups to remove invasive plant species under the guidance of knowledgeable professionals.
  • Volunteer at botanical gardens and natural areas to assist ongoing efforts to diminish the threat of invasive plants.
  • Participate in early warning systems by reporting invasive species you observe in your area. Determine which group or agency should be responsible for reports emanating from your area. If no 800 number exists for such reporting, request that one be established, citing the need for a clearinghouse with an 800 number and website links to information about invasive plant species.
  • Assist garden clubs to create policies regarding the use of invasive species not only in horticulture, but in activities such as flower shows. Urge florists and others to eliminate the use of invasive plant material.

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