U.S. Forest Service Research Uses New Invasive Plant Phone Application
Across the South, invasive plants cause incalculable damages to forests and, in many cases, completely destroy natural habitats. Forest Service research and funding led to the development of a free software application that helps people identify and control destructive invasive plants in southern forests and grasslands. The Invasive Plants in Southern Forests: Identification and Management application is currently compatible with Apple products iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch and available through iTunes. The software provides photos and information that allow users to identify the 56 nonnative plants and plant groups currently invading the forests of the 13 Southern States, and it provides control recommendations.
A Forest Service grant funded the development of the application by the University of Georgia Center for Invasive Species and Ecosystem Health in collaboration with Forest Service Emeritus Scientist, Jim Miller. The software is based on the invasive plant guides developed by the Southern Research Station with Miller as the lead author and photographer. Like the guides, the application divides invasive plants into trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, ferns, and forbs and provides identification keys, photos, and management recommendations. Users also get simple, on-the-spot options for treating invasive plants.
Since the guide's release, more than 200,000 copies of the printed version have been distributed. The plant application will inform many more people about the effect of invasive plants and provide a basis for people to get involved in eradication efforts. Future versions of the application will include the ability to directly report new sightings of select invasive plant species into the Georgia Center's Early Detection and Distribution Mapping System, which provides a quick way to submit photos and report new sightings of invasive plants, on the spot, throughout the United States.
Forest Service Partners