Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 11, pp 2229–2233 | Cite as

Australian acacias: useful and (sometimes) weedy

  • Christian A. KullEmail author
  • Jacques Tassin
Perpectives and Paradigms


Tim Low’s article “Australian acacias, weeds or useful trees” criticizes aid and development agencies for planting and promoting agroforestry and forestry trees, like Australian acacias, across the world, highlighting evidence that several species have become problematic biological invaders. We propose an alternative to Low’s blanket condemnation, emphasizing the importance of the regional socio-ecological context, taxon specificity, and participatory political process. We address flaws in Low’s case that all wattles should always be judged dangerous, and ask who should make judgements—and on what basis—on whether people can diffuse plants across ecological barriers. Context-specific, socially debated and environmentally responsible diffusion of alien plants can amply satisfy the sustainable development goal of meeting the needs of the present while safeguarding those of the future.


Acacia Agroforestry Conflict of interest Culture Ideology Invasive alien species Perception Plant introduction Scale 



We thank Dave Richardson for leading the Stellenbosch acacia workshop and inviting an ecumenical set of participants. We thank Charlie Shackleton, Rod Griffin, Libby Robin, Tony Rinaudo, Jane Carruthers, and Haripriya Rangan for their insights on this paper; however, the final contents remain our own responsibility.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Geography and Environmental ScienceMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD)UPR BSEF (Unité Propre de Recherche Biens et Services des Ecosystèmes Forestiers Tropicaux)MontpellierFrance

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