Resolving a prickly situation: Involving stakeholders in invasive cactus management in South Africa
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The regulation and management of alien species can be contentious, particularly when the stakeholders who benefit from alien species are different from those who suffer the costs. We propose a consultative process involving relevant stakeholders in invasive species management decisions. The process involves (1) the identification of relevant stakeholders, (2) assessing their perceptions, (3) enhancing interaction between stakeholders, (4) assessing changes in stakeholders’ perceptions following interactions with other stakeholders, and (5) developing management recommendations in collaboration with stakeholders. We demonstrate the application of the process using the family Cactaceae (‘cacti’) in South Africa. Many species of cacti have been introduced to the country over the past two centuries, mostly for horticulture, food and fodder, and hundreds of other species have been introduced in the past few decades (or are likely to be introduced soon) for horticulture. Using the proposed process enabled the negotiation and participation of all stakeholders in decision making and helped minimize contentious situations by clarifying stakeholder’s beliefs and exploring consensus solutions. Consequently, management objectives were broadly supported by all stakeholders. These results will be included in a national cactus management strategy for South Africa.