Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Incredible Edible Invasive Species

What happens when we add value to an invasive species? Adding value means finding a market by creating a demand. How long before market pressure works to off set control and management of the now-in-demand invasive species? Ultimately, the question becomes how soon will enterprising individuals plant or raise species which are potentially or actively destructive to the ecosystem, region or biome?

The Burlington Free Press says the land trust is hoping to expand its group of weed-pulling volunteers by teaching foodies that some invasive plants are welcome in the kitchen. Garlic mustard is good in pesto. Knotweed is similar to rhubarb and can be used in pie.[1] Garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata (Bieb.) Cavara & Grande , which I am pulling out by the pound in the hopes of not removing it by the ton, and Japanese knotweed, Polygonum cuspidatum Siebold & Zucc., which grows along the road edge near my house, are from my point of view weeds in my landscape. These two invasive plant species destroy the botanical and biological diversity that I prize, and do not provide a relationship or reward to me in return.

At the surface of invasive species issue discussions, such an approach seems to offer a constructive, win-win solution to a sustainable landscape challenge. For once an invasive species multiples enough to do damage, the resources needed to effectively control and manage the invasive species are usually more than society can afford or is willing to pay.
And complicating matters, the carefully wrought consensus definition of an invasive species (I know how carefully the definition was written – I was there) reads:
An invasive species is “…an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.” To provide guidance for the development and implementation of the NISMP, the National Invasive Species Council (NISC) and the Invasive Species Advisory Committee (ISAC) adopted a set of principles outlined in Appendix 6 of the NISMP. Guiding Principle #1 provides additional context for defining the term invasive species and states “many alien species are non-invasive and support human livelihoods or a preferred quality of life." However, some alien species (non-native will be used in this white paper because it is more descriptive than alien), for example West Nile virus, are considered invasive and undesirable by virtually everyone. Other non-native species are not as easily characterized. For example, some non-native species are considered harmful, and therefore, invasive by some sectors of our society while others consider them beneficial. This discontinuity is reflective of the different value systems operating in our free society, and contributes to the complexity of defining the term invasive species. [2]

A problematic dichotomy arises when to distinct constituencies find two incompatible environmental relationships embodied in the particular invasive species. As noted in the ISAC white paper non-native species such as garlic mustard and knotweed are considered harmful to natural ecosystems and their services, and therefore, designated invasive by some sectors of our society while others may come to find and consider the same two species beneficial.
So the stage is set for the continuing conflict between those who interested in sustainable landscapes and functioning ecosystems as a public value with personal satisfaction added, and those who are interested in the market place , also with p[personal satisfaction added, esoecially in a salad. We need to have a conversation about the ecosystem services that are now mostly free. The tragedy of the commons would be a good place to start.

Monday, March 23, 2009
The Chorale and the Garden: Polyphony and Sustainability
Friday, March 20, 2009
Dragon flies and the invasive species threat
Wednesday, March 04, 2009
Invasive Species are missing from our "green" conversation
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Invasive species - dead ash tree marketing
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Invasive Species and Ecosystem Service Loss
Friday, February 27, 2009
Invasive Species Definitions Defined
Invasive Species: A Reflection of Values
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Invasive species and ecosystem services; good and bad?

[1] Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Associated Press - April 26, 2009 9:25 AM ET
[2] Beck, K. George and Kenneth Zimmerman, Jeffrey D. Schardt, Jeffrey Stone, Ronald R. Lukens, Sarah Reichard, John Randall, Allegra A. Cangelosi, Diane Cooper, and John Peter Thompson. ISAC 2006. Invasive Species Definition Clarification and Guidance White Paper. [Online] ISAC 2006. http://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/docs/council/isacdef.pdf.

1 comment:

http://www.wildramblings.com said...

Now that's a creative idea, and helps to avoid the use of herbicides! Plus harvesting wild edible invasive exotics is a skill that can taken to other places by the voluteers and hopefully ridding the area of even more of these invasive plants.

Regarding "invasive exotics" I have always found it interesting which exotic plants we lable invasive. Take european field grasses for instance; orchard grass, timothy, quack grass, etc all are exotic, have nearly eradicated native grasses in some areas and cover vast areas yet are not considered invasive. I know they have economic (agricultrual) value but so does purple loosestrife (honey bee crops). It just makes me wonder what the politics are with this situation, and how the decisions are made.

Bill, wildramblings.com