Changing of the guard: moving from a war on weeds to an outcome-orientated weed management system
Paul O. Downey, Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.
Weed management has been likened to a war – the war on weeds. Whilst the concept of a war has created a sense of unity, supported by ‘propaganda’ and emotive language, the campaign has been far from a success. In fact it has actually hampered weed management by maintaining a deep-seated emphasis on the act of killing weeds, rather than on the outcome of that killing – an example of an outcome might be the response of native species that are threatened by a particular weed. In order to increase the effectiveness of weed management I argue that it is time for a changing of the guard or a transition from this so-called ‘war on weeds’ to a new approach: one that is focused on the outcome, which is not a war.
Whilst an outcome-orientated weed management system is not new, i.e. it has already been used in a few specific cases, it is distinctly different from the concept of a war, and more in line with the broader objectives of many weed management programs. In order to transition to an outcome-orientated weed management system several challenges need to be overcome, specifically around establishing appropriate goals and monitoring weed management programs. In addition we need to ensure policy is aligned with management and research. Lastly, some deeply entrenched individual and institutional views on weed management need to be overcome. None of the challenges outlined pose a significant barrier to a transition to an outcome-orientated approach. Given the failure of the war on weeds it is now time to make such a transition.
Plant Protection Quarterly (2011) 26 (3) 86-91.