The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Some southern African reflections on “Post-border management” of Invasive Alien Plants

The  Good,  the  Bad  and  the  Ugly:  Some  southern  African  reflections  on  “Post-border management” of Invasive Alien Plants
Ian A.W. Macdonald
International Environmental Consultant

Effective management of invasive alien plants (IAPs) once they have entered a defined area hinges on knowing (i) where the species is, (ii) how abundant it is, (iii) how it is being dispersed, (iv) how it can be controlled, (v) how much would it cost to control it, and (vi) how much funding is available to control it. A key approach to effective management is “Early Detection followed by Rapid Response” (EDRR): this works by minimising the extent of the invasion when management is initiated, hence helping to ensure that the cost of control is still within the available funding limits. At this stage, eradication of the IAP within the defined area is the preferred goal.

A successful EDRR programme hinges on correctly prioritizing the emerging IAPs into three categories: (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly). This allows a modified “triage” process to be followed such that available resources are optimally deployed in meeting the invariably insurmountable challenge faced in managing all IAPs present. Once an IAP has been selected for post-border management, a detailed strategy has to be developed with regard to (i) setting a feasible goal, (ii) zonation of the area to be managed, (iii) developing the awareness required to fund and implement the strategy, and (iv) ensuring the full suite of management approaches are being deployed. Unless rapid eradication is the goal, biological control should be employed wherever possible. The deciding factor in the success of any programme is invariably the motivation levels of those involved.