An Assessment of Stakeholder Perceptions and Management of Noxious Alien Plants in Spain
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- Andreu, J., Vilà, M. & Hulme, P.E. Environmental Management (2009) 43: 1244. doi:10.1007/s00267-009-9280-1
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Despite biological invasions being a worldwide phenomenon causing significant ecological, economic, and human welfare impacts, there is limited understanding regarding how environmental managers perceive the problem and subsequently manage alien species. Spanish environmental managers were surveyed using questionnaires to (1) analyze the extent to which they perceive plant invasions as a problem; (2) identify the status, occurrence, and impacts of noxious alien plant species; (3) assess current effort and expenditure targeting alien plant management; and, finally, (4) identify the criteria they use to set priorities for management. In comparison to other environmental concerns, plant invasions are perceived as only moderately problematic and mechanical control is the most valued and frequently used strategy to cope with plant invasions in Spain. Based on 70 questionnaires received, 193 species are considered noxious, 109 of which have been the subject of management activities. More than 90% of species are found in at least one protected area. According to respondents, the most frequently managed species are the most widespread across administrative regions and the ones perceived as causing the highest impacts. The perception of impact seems to be independent of their invasion status, since only half of the species identified as noxious are believed to be invasive in Spain, while 43% of species thought to only be casual aliens are causing a high impact. Records of management costs are poor and the few data indicate that the total actual expenditure amounted to 50,492,437 € in the last decade. The majority of respondents stated that management measures are insufficient to control alien plants due to limited economic resources, lack of public awareness and support, and an absence of coordination among different public administrations. Managers also expressed their concern about the fact that much scientific research is concerned with the ecology of alien plants rather than with specific cost-efficient strategies to manage alien species.