Lessons learnt from plant eradication programs in the Galapagos (EC)
Because the Galapagos Archipelago is in the early stage of the plant invasion process, most alien species are not yet naturalized and still restricted to gardens and farms, it was considered that eradication was the most effective option, after prevention of introductions. In recognition of the growing problem of introduced species, a 6-year, multi partner, 43 million USD program entitled “Control of Invasive Species in the Galapagos Archipelago” was funded by the Global Environment Fund, and many other partners.
Thirty plant eradication projects were set up, concerning 23 potentially invasive species with limited distribution on four of the Galapagos Islands. Out of the 30 projects, only 4 were successful. All plant species concerned by these projects covered less than 1 ha (net area), they were growing on a land belonging to a single owner, and did not have a persistent seed bank. Out of the 26 other projects, 1 failed because of technical difficulty, 3 failed because of the plant biology, 6 failed because they were too ambitious and could not be completed within the funding period, and 16 failed because of lack of support, either from institutions which could not provide sufficient resources to continue the projects, or from land owners who denied permission to enter their land. As a result, 64.3% of the funding secured for the pilot project was spent on discontinued projects.
An important source of failure resulted from the refusal of landowners to allow management measures against the invasive plant species on their properties. Their reasons included an active or perceived use of the plant for medicinal or ornamental purposes, the production of natural fibers or timber, or simply a sentimental attachment. Invoking the precautionary principle as an explanation for the need to remove plant species was only accepted by the landowners when they were aware of other infestations of the same species elsewhere in the archipelago. Describing problems the species have caused on other continents did not bear any weight. In addition, when close collaboration was sought with the communities, conflict was minimized.
Gardener MR, Atkinson R, Rentería JL (2010) Eradications and people: lessons from the plant eradication program in Galapagos. Restoration ecology 18(1), 20-29.