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Fairfield, Australia

Low T.,Invasive Species Council
Biological Invasions | Year: 2012

While agreeing that plants promoted by the aid and development community have a history of causing problems, Kull and Tassin (Biol Invasions, 2012) argue that no reform is needed, and misrepresent my precautionary position. Human suffering will escalate unless agroforestry crops, including Australian acacias, are treated with more caution. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Low T.,Invasive Species Council
Biological Invasions | Year: 2012

By promoting Australian acacias to the developing world, aid and development agencies are failing to learn from the mistakes made with mesquite (Prosopis juliflora) and jatropha (Jatropha curcas)-two plants with weedy attributes that have done more harm than good when promoted in Africa as aid. The belief in "miracle" plants that can lift people quickly out of poverty is problematical, because such plants have the attributes of weeds-vigorous growth in degraded conditions-and often escape human control, degrading rather than improving land. Other problems are costs that are less obvious than benefits, discounting of the future, and a belief that anything green is good. The main biological problem with Australian acacias is copious crops of long-lived seeds which make eradication very difficult, binding future generations to acacia-dominated landscapes. Drawing on papers presented at a workshop on Australian acacias as introduced species around the world held at Stellenbosch University, I examine the different perceptions of Australian acacias by invasion biologists and the aid and development community. The latter has redefined "sustainability" to give it social rather than ecological goals. To manage Australian acacias sustainably, precautionary risk assessment should take precedence over adaptive management, because mistakes are often irreversible and can take many decades to become obvious. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

Low T.,Invasive Species Council | Booth C.,Invasive Species Council | Sheppard A.,CSIRO
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability | Year: 2011

Biofuels are likely to cause significant weed problems because the attributes of an ideal biofuel species. - including rapid growth with minimal fertiliser and water needs. - match those of typical weeds, and because cultivation will be on a vast scale. The valued biofuel giant reed is one of the world's worst invaders. To reduce weed risk, biofuels could be cultivated under voluntary guidelines or legislative controls. But self-regulation has a poor track record, and legislative controls would impose a cost on society because biofuels are high-volume low-value crops with limited profit margins to fund weed management. Extreme weather events can exceed landholder capacity for control of escapes. Restricting candidate species to those with low weed risk is advisable, and many native species would offer safe potential. © 2010.

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