This is part one of a three part series. In this part we discuss: a) the negative effects of invasive plant removal methods, b) the involvement of Monsanto in popularizing invasion biology, and c) the tragedy of Pinyon-Juniper forest eradication in the western U.S. under the rubric of “native invasive species management.”
Defining “invasive species” is a slippery proposition.
The U.S. federal government defines it as “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.”
The National Wildlife Federation elevate s environmental considerations, describing it as “any kind of living organism… that is not native to an ecosystem and causes harm.”
The Connecticut Audubon society is less discriminating about the effects of introduction. For them, an invasive is any “non-native species that has been introduced, either intentionally or accidentally into a new habitat or has escaped cultivation.”
A plant species doesn’t have to venture far outside its native range to be considered invasive. Such is the case of the endangered Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa ), which “ is a frequent target for the chain saws of the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department—even though two small stands in Monterey, just fifty miles south, are cherished and protected as natives.” Meanwhile, a 500 mile drive north of its relict range , a large specimen planted by European settlers in the 1850’s is an officially designated “Oregon Heritage Tree,” which we assume grants it some safety.
The State of New York includes a native plant, Silphium perfoliatum , on their “Prohibited and Regulated Invasive Plants” list because its growth is “aggressive.” Here the non-native requirement has been dropped entirely because the plant has committed the crime of thriving.
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