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BBC series to spotlight Maui crew’s battle against invasive miconia

The BBC film crew shows MISC’s Hana miconia team a playback of footage from their segment. The film crew spent over a week on the ground and in the air capturing MISC’s miconia efforts in East Maui for the new BBC Studio’s series, “The Green Planet.” MISC photos

The Maui News

Maui Invasive Species Committee’s efforts to tackle invasive miconia in East Maui will be the subject of the BBC’s new series, “The Green Planet,” which will be shown in a virtual screening next week ahead of its Aug. 3 release.

The virtual episode screening will take place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, allowing Hawaii residents to see it first before the Aug. 3 release on PBS Hawaii and the PBS network, MISC announced. The screening will be followed by a live question-and-answer panel featuring Maui County Council Member Shane Sinenci, who holds the East Maui residency seat; MISC Operations Manager Adam Knox; Hana Miconia Crew Leader Aja Akuna; and Maui Nui Coordinator for the Plant Extinction Prevention Program Hank Oppenheimer.

In the summer of 2021, a BBC film crew journeyed into East Maui and The Nature Conservancy’s Waikamoi Preserve to film segments for “The Green Planet,” according to a MISC news release. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, the series explores the hidden worlds of plants. The final episode, which features Maui conservation efforts, focuses on humans’ complex relationships with plants and how people are finding new ways to help plants create a greener planet.

MISC worked with the BBC to showcase efforts in combating invasive miconia in East Maui. Miconia, an ornamental plant from Central and South America, was introduced to Hawaii in the 1970s, according to MISC. Its large purple and green leaves shade out other plants, while its shallow root systems and giant water drops increase erosion. In Tahiti, this purple plague inhabits over two-thirds of the island’s forests, contributing to the loss of native biodiversity.

Invasive miconia shades out other plants, while its shallow root systems and giant water drops increase erosion. Miconia is a target pest for the Maui Invasive Species Committee, which utilizes a variety of approaches to manage it.

MISC is working hard to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen here.

“We need several tools to control miconia on Maui,” MISC Public Relations and Education Specialist Serena Fukushima explained. “Our staff controls miconia from the ground while also utilizing longline spraying and HBT in inaccessible areas.”

HBT, or herbicide ballistic technology, is a technique developed by James Leary of the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. It uses herbicide-filled paintballs and is featured in the episode.

“Using helicopters, the trained team hovers next to a miconia plant on a cliff or hillside,” Fukushima said. “They shoot the plant with the paintball, breaking the stem and allowing a small amount of herbicide to absorb into the tree, eventually killing it. This method reduces the amount of herbicide in the environment while removing the quick-spreading invasive plant.”

The BBC film crew spent a week on the ground with the MISC Hana Miconia Crew and in the air with herbicide ballistic technology specialists.

To learn more and register for the screening and panel, visit mauiinvasive.org.

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