Social sciences perspectives: how proliferating plant species in Camargue (FR) are perceived?
Taking the example of exotic species which are proliferating in the particular ecosystems of Camargue (South of France), Claeys (2010) studied how these species are perceived by different social groups using the simple terms of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
The rare and now protected ecosystems of Camargue have largely been influenced by man. They are the results of the release of freshwater from irrigation, and salt water from the salt industry. In this anthropogenic context, the author noted that some exotic species are considered as “good” when they adapt to the local ecosystem without creating problems, and when they are useful to humans. On the other hand, an exotic species is considered as “bad” when it affects ecosystems, causes negative impacts on human activities or human health. For example, Baccharis halimifolia (Asteraceae, EPPO List of Invasive Alien Plants) and Cortaderia selloana (Poaceae, EPPO List of Invasive Alien Plants) have been widely planted in gardens and in public green areas in Camargue. Naturalists qualify these species as “invasive”, while this opinion is not shared by some residents who have planted them in their gardens, or by some amenity gardeners who have used them in public green. Among stakeholders such as landscapers, there may even be opposition against any type of measures to control these plant species. Others residents, although they have planted these species, accept this adjective of ‘invasive’, but they consider the problem as secondary, and this is reinforced by the fact that these two species were perceived to be local. Concerning hunters and fishermen, they consider these two species as problematic as they invade some hunting and fishing areas. Hunters and fishermen are therefore creating alliances with naturalists and natural areas managers to control these species. The author concluded that when trying to characterize plant species, it was important to take into account both the biological and social viewpoints.
Claeys C (2010) Les “bonnes” et les “mauvaises” proliférantes. Controverses camarguaises. Etudes rurales185, 101-118