Brevard County, FL Non-Native Noxious Invasive Plant Ordinance
Status: Adopted on 5/28/02
Brevard County amended its Landscaping and Land Clearing ordinances on May 28, 2002, by adopting ordinance #02-26. These amendments require the removal of targeted non-native noxious invasive plant species during land development and require controlling re-growth of such species in perpetuity. The amendment sections dealing with non-native noxious invasive species are effective countywide and across all zoning classifications and include government-owned lands. Municipalities are automatically included in the area encompassed by these ordinance sections, but may choose to opt out of the countywide ordinance by adopting their own ordinance. The affected municipality shall pursue enforcement of the specified sections of this ordinance within incorporated areas. To reduce the economic impact on property owners, the requirements apply to a minimum of 2.5 contiguous acres/parcel across all zoning classifications. For lots greater than 2.5 acres, the requirement to remove and control re-growth of non-native noxious invasive plants applies to 2.5 contiguous acres to and including the buildable area. The goal of this ordinance is to help eradicate non-native, noxious invasive plants in Brevard County, protect the health and safety of citizens, improve the quality of life, restore and maintain natural scenic vistas, and maintain or restore the quality of natural habitats in developed areas.
Florida is among the four states with the highest plant diversity, containing over 4,100 different species. Of these, about 2,800 are native plant species and 1,300 are naturalized, non-native species. Only California, Texas, and Hawaii have similar levels of plant diversity. Florida’s diverse and beautiful vegetation provides the quality of life that residents and visitors seek and enjoy.
Florida, however, is being invaded and altered by non-native, invasive species of plants and animals. The tropical climate and numerous ports of entry expose Florida to more non-native, invasive species than most other states. Many species of plants and animals from other continents have arrived here, whether imported or introduced accidentally, since European settlement of the state.
Native plant species are defined as having occurred naturally in Florida prior to European settlement in the 1500s. Non-native plant species include ornamentals and invasive species. Not all non-native plants are invasive. Many ornamentals are non-native, and currently do not demonstrate invasive properties. Some non-native plants, however, become naturalized, which means they have been found growing in native plant communities. Naturalized species comprise escaped cultivated species and invasive ones. A species is called invasive when it is naturalized and displacing native vegetation. Invasive exotic is another term meaning non-native, invasive species.
Florida’s ecosystem deterioration occurring as a result of non-native, invasive, plants is greater than that in all other states except Hawaii. Commonly recognized non-native, invasive plants include Brazilian Pepper, Melaleuca, Australian Pine, Kudzu, Air Potato, Cogon Grass, and Tropical Soda Apple. Certain species of non-native, invasive vegetation have a variety of noxious qualities, including but not limited to, adverse effects on human health, hazards to public safety, and undesirable aesthetics. Some species pose both health and safety threats to people and livestock. Brazilian Pepper, for example, is a relative of Poison Ivy and direct contact with the sap can cause allergic reactions similar to those from Poison Ivy. Airborne pollen from the blooms or smoke from burning the plant can cause severe sinus, lung and eye irritation, and consumption of leaves can cause vomiting and hemorrhaging. In addition to Brazilian Pepper, many of the non-native, invasive plants in Florida cause health problems ranging from skin irritation to death, especially in the case of children. On agricultural lands, non-native, invasive plants frequently out-compete crops for resources and are poisonous to livestock.
Non-native, invasive plants destroy more habitats for native and endangered species than any other single factor that scientists can identify except development. Brazilian Pepper and other invasive, non-native plants have permeated our landscape to the extent that they are displacing native plant species and changing the structure and function of our natural communities. The health, safety, economic well-being and general welfare of the present and future residents of this community are adversely influenced by degradation of natural ecological systems.
Recognizing this problem, the Brevard County Comprehensive Plan, Conservation Element, Policy 8.10, states:
Brevard County shall develop a county-wide program for invasive exotic removal on public lands and shall educate private property owners on reasons to remove invasive exotics from private lands. This program should emphasize replacement of invasive exotics with native vegetation where feasible.
To help fulfill the above policy; to respond to citizen complaints of encroaching non-native, invasive plants; promote the conservation of wildlife species; encourage preservation of native vegetation to reduce visual, air, and noise pollution; and enhance the aesthetic quality of life in Brevard County, the Board of County Commissioners adopted a non-native, noxious, invasive plant ordinance on May 21, 2002, to control a targeted list of species at the time of new development.