An approach to the development of a national strategy for controlling invasive alien plant species: the case of parthenium hysterophorus in South Africa
van Wilgen, B.W.
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Invasive alien species require co-ordinated management if negative impacts are to be effectively avoided. Here we describe a strategy for the management of Parthenium hysterophorus L.(Asteraceae) in South Africa. P.Hysterophorus is an annual herb native to tropical America, which has become invasive in over 30 countries. The strategy sets goals for (1) the prevention of spread to new areas; (2) local eradication of isolated populations; (3) containment in areas where eradication is not possible; and (4) actions to protect assets where containment is no longer an option. We developed both a national strategy to set policy and to monitor progress towards goals at a national level and an implementation plan to set goals and timeframes for their achievement at local levels. It is not clear, at this stage, whether of not the goals of the strategy are achievable because implementation will face many challenges arising from ecological features of the target plant, social and cultural practices that will influence management, inadequate levels of funding and multiple political considerations. Our strategy proposes regular assessment using high-level indicators, a practice that is widely recognised as essential but seldom implemented at a national scale. Because the outcomes are uncertain, it is vital that regular monitoring of outcomes should be instituted from the start, so that both appropriate adjustments can be made to the strategy and lessons for the implementation of similar strategies elsewhere can be derived.