, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 311-320
Date: 18 Jun 2010

Managing biological invasions: charting courses to desirable futures in the Cape Floristic Region

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Abstract

Invasive species alter the functioning of natural ecosystems, creating “novel ecosystems” comprising species occurring in combinations with no analogs within a given biome. This poses major challenges for managers who cannot rely exclusively on previous experiences. Multiple factors that drive invasion and which interact in complex ways demand innovative management approaches. We show the utility of scenario planning in considering options for management in a region with substantial problems with invasive alien plants: South Africa’s Cape Floristic Region. The approach allows us to identify the driving forces that shape the status and trajectories of major woody invasive plants and to identify sensible strategies by considering a set of scenarios based on the main uncertainties that encapsulate the linkages between the various components of the management of biological invasions. Attitudes of landowners and management capacity are shown to be the crucial uncertainties influencing the spread of major invasive species; axes based on these factors define our scenarios. Mapping current management projects onto scenario axes highlighted key differences among areas. These insights can assist in directing particular management units toward more desirable futures. Our study highlights the need to link social, political and legal constraints with ecological processes to assure the effectiveness of management operations in controlling biological invasions.

An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10113-010-0151-3