Phytochemistry & Ecology|

Grevillea banksii (Proteaceae), a non-native shrubby tree, has in the past five decades expanded to cover hundreds of thousands of hectares in lowland eastern Madagascar, accompanied by other Australian and pan-tropical species, including Melaleuca quinquenervia, Acacia mangium, and Eucalyptus spp. We investigate contrasting perceptions of this new landscape with view to facilitate future management. Field research was based on 290 surveys, key informant interviews, and ecological inventories at six sites from Farafangana in the south to Fenerive Est in the north. After documenting the ecology and usage of grevillea, we analyse differing ways in which it can be perceived. Perceptions promoted by scientists and administrators include the contrasting ideas of beneficial landscape greening, rampant biological invasion, novel ecosystems, and forest transition. Perceptions held by local actors are highly determined by practical livelihood concerns. These local views are largely positive due to the major role of grevillea firewood and charcoal sales in livelihoods; however, context plays a major role and a number of disadvantages are perceived as well, including difficulty of removal, competition with crop and pasture land, and the respiratory health impacts of involvement in charcoal production. We conclude that policymakers and managers – in this case and in similar cases around the world – need to be more reflexive on the ways in which environmental problems are framed and to put those frames more in conversation with local people’s experiences in order to productively resolve invasive species management dilemmas.

Reference: Kull, C. A., S. L. Harimanana, A. R. Andrianoro and L. G. Rajoelison (2019). “Divergent perceptions of the ‘neo-Australian’forests of lowland eastern Madagascar: Invasions, transitions, and livelihoods.” Journal of environmental management 229: 48-56.

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