Landowners Push Invasive Control

See what methods are being pushed to control invasive species...

Forest landowners in the Northeast are more likely to prefer mechanical methods to control invasive species over chemical treatment even when chemical treatment is more effective, according to a recent study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

The study, led by Associate Professor Shadi Atallah, focused on glossy buckthorn in white pine forests in Maine and New Hampshire. It included 939 landowners to “gauge preferences, motivations, and willingness to pay for glossy buckthorn control on their land”, according to a summary of the research.

Buckthorn is a problem for landowners whose priorities are recreational or economic. When widely established it interferes with wildlife, hiking, and biking. But it also competes with young trees for resources and limits regeneration.

“We have these environmental preferences that could lead to the invasive species spreading because mechanical controls are less effective than chemical methods. An agency concerned with effectiveness at the landscape level might end up subsidizing chemical control more than mechanical,” Atallah stated. “The crux of the problem is how to balance the tradeoffs between landowner preferences, available treatment methods, and the forest health as an ecosystem that would benefit from the removal of non-native, invasive plants.”

The study found that small landowners were strongly influenced by the actions of their neighboring landowners in terms of their willingness to pay for control of invasive plants. “We show that it’s going to increase a landowner’s willingness to pay for control if their neighbor is also doing so. If everybody else is controlling, it becomes more cost-effective,” Atallah said.

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