Maui’s battle against miconia featured in new BBC series: The Green Planet

The fast-growing weedy tree can reach up to 50 feet tall and it threatens Hawaii’s ecosystem.
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 6:38 PM HST|Updated: Jul. 20, 2022 at 6:44 PM HST
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EAST MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Maui’s battle against miconia will soon be featured in a new BBC series called, “The Green Planet.”

The fast-growing weedy tree can reach up to 50 feet tall and it threatens Hawaii’s ecosystem.

“Invasive species threaten our environment, our economy, our health, our cultural practices, our way of life in Hawaii,” said Serena Fukushima, Maui Invasive Species Committee Public Relations and Education Specialist. “So being able to control and manage these species, while also being able to share our story with the rest of the world is amazing and important.”

After traveling nearly 7,000 miles from the United Kingdom to the Valley Isle last summer, a BBC film crew shadowed the Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) for a week.

The final episode of the series highlights Hawaii’s conservation efforts.

Together, they journeyed through the Nature Conservancy’s Waikamoi Preserve in East Maui and captured footage.

MISC took the BBC for a ride in the air to show them, and the rest of the world, how they combat miconia.

Narrated by David Attenborough, they showcase a special technique used from above called herbicide ballistic technology.

Experts use paintballs full of herbicide to target just the invasive plant, without harming any native plants.

“Going up in the helicopter and then focusing on these individual plants. So it’s a way to be extremely precise in hitting a target species,” Fukushima said.

Miconia is native to Central and South America. It was introduced to Hawaii in the 1970s. It’s harmful because the plant can get so large that it shades out native plants and can completely take over a forest.

Nicknamed “the green cancer of the Pacific” or “the purple plague,” it’s shallow root systems can also cause erosion.

“While it’s this beautiful purple plant, in some cases , their leaves are enormous. Just think about all the life that it’s blocking below,” said PBS Hawaii President and CEO Ron Mizutani. “It’s a fight against time because this plant is so invasive and can grow so quickly and it can spread seeds in the millions every year.”

Hawaii residents can watch the episode first during a virtual screening on July 26 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. followed by a live panel discussion.

The official release date is August 3 on PBS Hawaii at 8 p.m.

For more details, click here.

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