Adoption, use and perception of Australian acacias around the world
Aim To examine the different uses and perceptions of introduced Australian acacias (wattles; Acacia subgenus Phyllodineae) by rural households and communities. Location Eighteen landscape-scale case studies around the world, in Vietnam, India, Réunion, Madagascar, South Africa, Congo, Niger, Ethiopia, Israel, France, Portugal, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic and Hawai'i. Methods Qualitative comparison of case studies, based on questionnaire sent to network of acacia researchers. Information based on individual knowledge of local experts, published and unpublished sources. Results We propose a conceptual model to explain current uses and perceptions of introduced acacias. It highlights historically and geographically contingent processes, including economic development, environmental discourses, political context, and local or regional needs. Four main groupings of case studies were united by similar patterns: (1) poor communities benefiting from targeted agroforestry projects; (2) places where residents, generally poor, take advantage of a valuable resource already present in their landscape via plantation and/or invasion; (3) regions of small and mid-scale tree farmers participating in the forestry industry; and (4) a number of high-income communities dealing with the legacies of former or niche use of introduced acacia in a context of increased concern over biodiversity and ecosystem services. Main conclusions Economic conditions play a key role shaping acacia use. Poorer communities rely strongly on acacias (often in, or escaped from, formal plantations) for household needs and, sometimes, for income. Middle-income regions more typically host private farm investments in acacia woodlots for commercialization. Efforts at control of invasive acacias must take care to not adversely impact poor dependent communities. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.