Public awareness and invasive alien plants
Successful management of invasive alien plants requires that the public are aware of their negative impacts on the natural environment and support management measures. In Portugal, there are over 1 750 alien species that have been reported as having negative impacts and among these, 667 are plant species alien to Portugal. A target audience was established that had access to the internet and some level of environmental awareness or interest. Using an online questionnaire, this audience was asked questions to determine their knowledge and perceptions of invasive alien plants. Additional information was collected on the respondent’s occupation and the audience was divided into those that had had some formal training in environmental areas compared to informal education about invasive alien plants. In total there were 735 responses to the survey and those with formal training, showed an increased knowledge on invasive alien plants. When respondents were asked to identify the species and the status of 5 plants species, 3 native species (Ilex aquifolium (Aquifoliaceae), Quercus robur (Fagaceae) and Ulex europaeus (Fabaceae)) and 2 non-native species (Oxalis pes-caprae (Oxalidaceae) and Acacia dealbata (Fabaceae)) both EPPO List of Invasive Alien Plants, the results were variable. I. aquifolium, Q. robur and A. dealbata were the species most correctly identified. Generally, the respondents supported the removal of invasive alien plants. The results of this work highlight that when information is disseminated on invasive alien plants and their impacts, this can lead to better informed stakeholders.
Cordeiro B, Marchante H, Castro P, Marchante E (2020) Does public awareness about invasive plants pay off? An analysis of knowledge and perceptions of environmentally aware citizens in Portugal. Biological Invasions 22, 2267-2281.