« Return to this article

for people who care about the West

Don’t embrace invasives


Stephen Jackson’s common-sense perspective — that we can’t do everything — matches the daily decision-making of land managers who determine where to invest their limited resources to best stop the spread of invasives (HCN, 9/5/16). Land managers are very aware of their limitations, and of the dynamic nature of the places they manage. The perception that they aspire to return lands to some historic state seems far removed from my experience across California. Land managers are working to protect sensitive species, key habitats, ecosystem processes and climate refugia. 

As Jackson implies when talking about buffelgrass in the Sonoran Desert, we can acknowledge our inability to address all invasive species without embracing them as an acceptable part of the new order. The concept of “novel ecosystems” is more useful as an area of scientific study than it is on the ground, where managers are already coping with changes beyond their control. In the political and public perception realms, we need to take care that the concept does not weaken support for effective action aimed at limiting ecosystem degradation. Though there are certainly limits to what can be done, we won’t truly find those limits until we make the prevention and management of invasive species a top priority and allocate resources accordingly.

Doug Johnson
Executive director
California Invasive Plant Council

Berkeley, California