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The Human Aspect of Invasive Alien Plants

- the paradox of plants, people and personal preferences. Theme 2020-2021

As our world changes, so does the nature people relate to. Which plants we use and relate to has changed over time. We have cultivated and nurtured some of them whereas we have worked to clear away others. Invasive alien plants need to be managed in one way or another but there may be differences in opinion regarding what kind of management is best suited for a particular plant.

When not directly harmful to humans or their livestock, these invasive alien plants have become a part of everyday life. However, with increased ambitions to preserve native biodiversity, ongoing climate change, and a globalized world increasing the transport of plant material globally, an increased tension is built up in relation to which plants we want to nurture or eradicate. While nature conservation authorities aim to preserverare native plants, people today have dwindling relations with plants from our old agricultural landscape and its meadows and pastures and may instead be more tuned to current flora and fauna, which can result in value conflicts.

About the Theme

The overarching aim of the Theme is to explore different processes and practices related to the new context of plants and humans. This involves the apparent contradiction that a specific plant species can be both desired, as a provider of goods and services, and problematic, as a threat to native ecosystems and infrastructure. The urgent need for a transition towards a sustainable society has resulted in trends and adaptations, such as renewable energy, the protein shift from animal to plant-based products, circular economy and novel plant-based materials, which add further complexity to how plants are viewed in society.

The Theme will illuminate, critically analyze and create new knowledge on this complexity. In particular, we will investigate how the process of controlling problematic plants through international conventions and threat list classification can be in conflict with other ongoing, parallel movements in society.

By setting the plants on the national list of Invasive Alien Species into contrasting contexts such as conservation efforts vs. local appreciation of biodiversity irrespective of origin or potential means for climate change adaptation, the Theme will demonstrate the inherent value-based conflicts underlying the classification of species as “undesired” as a phenomenon and explore how, why and by whom certain plants are defined as Invasive Alien Species. This includes the exploration of how the public and different types of experts perceive exotic and native plants in private gardens, public plantations as well as in “nature” and elaborate oneffects of Invasive Alien Species on housing and road infrastructures, attitudes and behavior.