Donation from Dow AgroSciences helps restore shorebird habitat in the Bahamas
The Bahamas include more than 700 islands, with thousands of miles of sandy shorelines, mangroves and other natural areas that are prime habitat for numerous species of migratory and breeding coastal birds. Australian pine, an invasive species originally planted by people in the late 1800s, has spread throughout the Bahamas archipelago — eroding beaches by displacing native vegetation and damaging shorebird nesting habitat.
Conservian, a nonprofit conservation group created to protect coastal birds and their habitats, initiated the 2016 Bahamas Shorebird Conservation Expedition in an effort to reverse the damage. The five-week expedition aboard a 75-foot schooner began early this summer as the first program in the Bahamas to implement protective measures for beach-nesting birds and habitat. A significant part of those protective measures included working with local partners and community members to implement a pilot treatment program to control Australian pine by using herbicides with the goal of restoring the habitat to its original state.
Donation from Dow AgroSciences plays key role
Long before the expedition set sail, Conservian director Margo Zdravkovic contacted Danny Leckie, IVM specialist with Dow AgroSciences, for guidance on treating Australian pine and assistance regarding herbicide and application recommendations. Based on the expedition’s goals and the invasive species targeted, Leckie worked with Pat Burch, field scientist, Dow AgroSciences, to develop a treatment plan using Pathfinder® II specialty herbicide.
Pathfinder II not only effectively controls Australian pine but also is a premixed and ready-to-use herbicide solution for basal bark and cut-stump applications — especially important as Conservian didn’t want to have to mix herbicides in the field.
“We were able to advise the Conservian team not only about an herbicide recommendation but also about proper training and techniques, as well as the equipment needed to perform those techniques,” Leckie says. “Pathfinder II was perfect for what they wanted to do, and we were able to take it a step further by securing a donation of 50 gallons of product to assist Conservian, as it relies on donations to complete its important work.”
Initial success spurs future plans
The completed pilot program consisted of cut-stump basal bark applications of Pathfinder II at Lucayan National Park’s Gold Rock Beach on Grand Bahama Island. Inspection of the areas treated earlier this summer has shown excellent control of shoreline infestation. Conservian’s long-term goal, with the help of partners, is to eventually treat all the coastal habitat of the Bahamas affected by Australian pine.
Plans are already in place for a second expedition in 2017, targeting new sites in the northern Bahamas. For more information about Conservian and its worthy projects or joining the 2017 Bahamas Conservation Expedition, follow its Facebook page at facebook.com/CoastalBirdConservation.