Modelling weeds and people: how today’s management determines tomorrow’s infestations

Cameron S. Fletcher and David A. Westcott, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems and the Marine and Tropical Research Facility, PO Box 780, Atherton, Queensland 4883, Australia.


Unwanted plant and animal invasions throughout the world cause large negative impacts through lost natural values, lost productivity, and ongoing management costs. For instance, Australian farmers spent over $1 billion in the 2005-2006 financial year in weed prevention and management alone (Australian Bureau of Statistics). In protected areas, aggressively invasive species, like the small South American tree Miconia calvescens, can have similarly detrimental effects on natural reserves and biodiversity values, as has already occurred in Hawaii and French Polynesia (Meyer and Florence 1996, Medeiros et al. 1997, Kaiser 2006).The trend for new invasions is increasing with globalization of food production inputs and outputs, tourism travel, and faster, cheaper transport, and climate change is expected to alter the range of many current and potential invasive species, increasing the total areas affected by these problems. These observations suggest that the difficult problem of effectively managing weeds is likely to become an even larger part of effective ecosystem management in the future.


Plant Protection Quarterly (2009) 24 (3) 98.