Chromolaena odorata (Siam Weed) in eastern Africa: distribution and socio-ecological impacts
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Invasive alien plant species such as Chromolaena odorata have negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystem services and human well-being. Ecological impacts of this shrub are relatively well understood, but its impacts on local livelihoods and perceptions are poorly documented. We mapped C. odorata distribution in eastern Africa (Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) and compared perceptions and quantified the impacts of this species across Tanzanian villages with varying degrees of invasion density. Data were collected through 240 household questionnaires. Results indicate that C. odorata is a relatively new invader that already has severe negative impacts and is threatening livelihoods and the environment. Impacts include reductions in native biodiversity and the amount of available forage for livestock, reduced crop and water yields, and impaired mobility. Continued spread will cause additional negative impacts on poor rural communities. Implementation of a biological control programme targeting C. odorata is needed as a cost effective management approach along with other control and restoration measures.