The mission of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's Upland Invasive Exotic Plant Management Program (Uplands Program) is to achieve maintenance control of invasive exotic plant species on public conservation land. Over one hundred alien plants have invaded at least 1.5 million acres of Florida's nearly 11 million acres of public conservation land, affecting an ecotourism economy valued at $8 billion annually. However, invasive alien plants respect no boundaries and millions of acres of private land are also affected. This ongoing alien invasion has degraded and diminished what remains of Florida's natural areas, affected agricultural production, and reduced outdoor recreation and ecotourism opportunities.
The Uplands Program was established in 1997 to address the need for a statewide coordinated approach to the terrestrial (vs. aquatic) invasive exotic plant problem. The Uplands Program incorporates place-based management concepts, bringing together regionally diverse interests to develop flexible, innovative strategies to address weed management issues at the local level. The Uplands Program funds individual invasive plant removal projects on public conservation lands statewide, through a system of contracts with public agencies and cost-effective private weed control contractors. Projects are considered for funding based upon recommendations from eleven Regional Invasive Plant Working Groups.
As part of its education and outreach efforts, the Uplands Program produced annual reports of the work conducted on public natural areas. These reports are useful to land managers well after the then current year, as they provide an historical overview of invasive plant control on a site-by-site basis. In 2008, the Uplands Program was legislatively transferred from DEP to FWC. During the transition, annual reports (in the standard format) were discontinued. However, the Uplands Program anticipates a return to annual reporting in a revised format, in the near future.