Skip to main content
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA FAQ's and resources about coronavirus (COVID-19).  LEARN MORE

Offshore Plant Health Safeguarding Activities

Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative (GCSI)

The GCSI, a national offshore plant health safeguarding program coordinated by PPQ headquarters in Maryland, was created in July 2008. The GCSI provides the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ), and its partners in the Greater Caribbean Region (GCR), the opportunity to establish a perimeter defense against the introduction of high risk plant pests into the GCR through collaborative efforts to harmonize quarantines, exclusion strategies and other safeguarding initiatives.

GCSI's mission is to strengthen the safeguarding system in the Greater Caribbean Region by establishing partnerships with countries in the GCR to prevent, detect, and control existing and emerging plant pest threats. For the scope of the GCSI program, the GCR is defined to include the Caribbean islands, portions of South America (Venezuela, Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana) Central America, Panama and the United States: FL, Puerto Rico (PR) & U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).

GCSI's strategic goals are designed to support the development of the regional perimeter safeguarding approach to prevent the introduction of high risk plant pests and invasive species into the GCR. These goals are:

  • Build a Coordinated GCSI Framework and Partnership Network
  • Strengthen Pest Exclusion Activities within the GCR
  • Enhance Pest Detection Activities within the GCR
  • Strengthen Pest Mitigation and Suppression Activities within the GCR 

GCSI focuses on strengthening APHIS' partnership with countries in the GCR for the on-going regional development of offshore pest detection and control activities, for the benefit of all countries and territories in the GCR. GCSI uses a perimeter approach to prevent the introduction and spread of high risk plant pests into the GCR, including the United States. This approach is achieved through collaborative efforts to harmonize quarantines, exclusion strategies, and other plant health safeguarding initiatives among partners in the GCR.

Additionally, the GCSI collaborates with other APHIS programs such as International Services, Center for Plant Health Science and Technology, and the Offshore Pest Information Program (OPIP). GCSI and its partners utilize these relationships to expand APHIS' knowledge base, improve upon existing APHIS pest mitigation and management initiatives, and enhance strategy development and preparedness to reduce the introduction and spread of pests in the GCR.

GSCI is committed to ensuring all GSCI initiatives are successful and sustainable over the long term. To that end, training and capacity building will be strategically incorporated in all GSCI sponsored projects and built on projects with a proven track record. The GCSI program strives to be creative, innovative, and strategic in its approaches toward addressing goals and challenges. GSCI will endorse projects and activities that are broadly considered to be necessary, feasible, and well-designed to ensure that the project outcomes will be transferrable and sustainable. GCSI will periodically assess ongoing projects to determine what is working and identify any challenges that require additional support.

For more information about the GCSI program and GCSI offshore plant health safeguarding efforts in the Greater Caribbean Region, please contact Mr. Dennis Martin at (301) 851-2033.

GCSI Domestic Program

The State of Florida is a major geographic entryway of passengers and trade from the Greater Caribbean Region (GCR) into the United States. In addition, the peninsular state extends into the GCR, making it prone to the introduction of exotic plant pests from the GCR through natural dispersal mechanisms.

In effort to establish a first line of defense for such introductions, APHIS PPQ GCSI has placed an emphasis on coordinated plant health safeguarding efforts to target and reduce the risk of plant pests establishing in the United States through the Florida pathway. A Florida GCSI Program Manager position, based in the greater Miami, was created to provide coordination and communication among the various collaborators within the State of FL, PPQ's Eastern Region, and PPQ Headquarters for the purpose of strengthening pest detection, pest mitigation, pest exclusion, and agricultural quarantine inspection activities in FL and the Eastern Region. The Florida GCSI Program Manager is also responsible for coordinating GCSI plant health safeguarding efforts in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and other states, as needed, in PPQ's Eastern Region. Additionally, Federal and State plant health regulatory agencies within FL, and their collaborators, play a vital role in this program.

For more about the GCSI program and GCSI plant health safeguarding efforts in FL, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, please contact Mr. Robert Balaam at (305) 278-4872.

Complementary Content