, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 445-457

Economic issues in the management of plants invading natural environments: Scotch broom in Barrington Tops National Park

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Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius, L.), is an exotic leguminous shrub, native to Europe, which invades pastoral and woodland ecosystems and adjoining river systems in cool, high rainfall regions of southeastern Australia. Broom has invaded 10,000 ha of eucalypt woodland in Barrington Tops National Park in New South Wales, and is having a major impact on the natural ecology of the sub-alpine environment. It is extremely competitive with the native flora, retarding their growth and in many areas blanketing the ground and preventing growth of many understorey species in open forest areas. A number of rare and endangered species are believed to be under threat from this invasion. An active program to manage the threat is being implemented by the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service. The management issues relevant to this threat are addressed through the application of a detailed bio-economic model of broom management. The results show that intervention in the management of broom in this natural ecosystem is clearly economically justified, and increases in the existing budgets appear to be justified. A combination of control measures, rather than any single measure, is almost always justified. Attempts to eradicate the broom invasion appear to be undesirable, so containment is the preferable strategy. Further, funding bodies should give assurances of future budget levels. The method of analysis reported here should be applicable to other types of biological invasions.