About Invasive Plant Management

Without plants, there would be no food, no animals of any sort, no life on earth at all …they are constantly on the move: developing, fighting, avoiding or exploiting predators or neighbours, struggling to find food, to increase their territories, to reproduce themselves, to find and hold a place in the sun … (David Attenborough - The Secret Lives of Plants).

Restoring island biodiversity
High school students in a nursery shade-house learn about native plants used in restoration projects.
(Photo: Natasha Doherty)
Invasive plant management can be action taken to eradicate or control recent arrivals or small populations of serious plant threats, or as a component of biodiversity restoration projects. Prioritisation of valued sites and target invasive plants is necessary to ensure effort is put in where it will be most useful.

Restoration projects are undertaken at suitable sites and need to be thoroughly planned.  A good understanding of all factors that influence the plant and animal population dynamics of the site is required; there may be little point in managing any invasive plant species if the site or infested area can be reinvaded by another invasive species.  As a restoration project can be a medium- to long-term undertaking requiring on-going resourcing, stakeholder and community support is essential.

Matters to take into account when considering invasive plant management projects include:

  • Whether a replanting programme using suitable native plant species is feasible
  • Whether seeds or propagules of native plants will naturally reach the site through wind or bird dispersal and survive to germinate without being consumed by invasive rodents or destroyed by invasive ants
  • Whether the target invasive plant species has “nursery plant” characteristics which allow native species to establish within the infested area and eventually dominate
  • The size, viability and longevity of the invasive plant seed bank in the soil
  • The proximity of other invasive plant species and their likely establishment at the site from, for example, wind-borne seed, or fragments carried by floods.