The crew of the Molokai/Maui Invasive Species Committee has adjusted fieldwork to reflect the Covid-19 guidelines: starting in April, they check- in on Zoom, rather than in person. Staff completed online training and learning new skills through webinars from presenters across the state while all the necessary PPE was being obtained. Fast forward to May and things are starting to look a little brighter (and sweatier). Thanks to MISC staff and volunteers, MoMISC was able to get the PPE needed to resume some types of fieldwork. The MoMISC staff have identified several target species that can be worked on while keeping compliant with current safe working guidelines. After updating procedures, the crew is back in the field surveying for coconut rhinoceros beetle (not yet detected outside Oʻahu) and tracking down infestations of rubber vine and Australian tree ferns, all activities that can be done while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
On Molokai, one major impact of Covid-19 was that it highlighted the island’s food security vulnerabilities. One outcome is a renewed enthusiasm for home gardening among residents. In recognizing this, MoMISC outreach will be submitting press releases to the local newspaper that highlight invasive species as a major threat to both food security and agriculture and provide helpful tips for home gardeners on making conscientious planting choices, exchanging plants, and suggestions for sourcing material for the home.