Assessing the impacts of invasive alien plants on urban ecosystem services

Potgieter, Luke (2019-04)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2019.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The sustainable provision of ecosystem services (ES) is a critical issue in the ongoing and evolving urbanization process that is placing enormous pressures on natural resources within and around urban landscapes. Urban ecosystems provide multiple ES for human well-being, but they can also generate functions, processes and attributes that result in perceived or actual negative impacts on human well-being, termed ecosystem disservices (EDS). Understanding the ES-EDS dichotomy within the context of the urban landscape is important for promoting the development of resilient and sustainable cities. Many alien plants introduced to urban areas around the world specifically to create, augment or restore key ES, are now firmly embedded in urban landscapes and have complex social and economic ties. Urban areas are particularly susceptible to invasion by alien plant species and some have subsequently spread beyond original plantings and have become invasive, causing negative effects on existing ES or creating novel ES or EDS. Complex interactions between humans and alien plants allow these impacts to manifest in many ways. Managing urban plant invasions is particularly challenging given the complex interactions between ecological, economic and social elements that exist in the urban milieu. Management decisions need to give explicit and transparent consideration to divergent stakeholder perceptions to mitigate potential conflicts of interest around alien and invasive plants and their management. Additionally, practical approaches for integrating ES and EDS in the decision-making process are needed to guide urban managers and planners. Given the limited resources available for managing invasive alien plants (IAPs), efficient prioritization of areas for IAP control is crucial for effective land management and ecological restoration. A literature review was conducted to determine the role of alien plants in providing urban ES and EDS globally (Chapter 2). The city of Cape Town was then used as a study system to elucidate the complex interactions between urban residents and managers, and alien and invasive plants in a unique ecological, political and social setting. Questionnaire-based surveys were conducted across the city to determine the perceptions of urban residents regarding IAPs and the capacity of IAPs to provide ES and EDS (Chapter 3). A multi-criterion decision-making analysis (using the Analytic Hierarchy Process approach) was then performed for the city to develop a prioritisation framework for managing areas invaded by alien plants at the city/landscape and at local scales (Chapter 4). The impact of IAPs on safety and security was assessed by exploring the link between urban vegetation and criminal activity through questionnaire-based surveys, analysing criminal court cases, and searching the grey literature (Chapter 5). Finally, an approach, merging several available tools and techniques (such as remote sensing), was developed to assess the role of urban vegetation (including alien and invasive plants) in providing ES and EDS at a local-scale urban context (Chapter 6). A small number of alien plant taxa were recorded as providing multiple ES in many urban ecosystems around the world. Some of these species also generate significant EDS (Chapter 2). IAPs and their management are perceived both negatively and positively by urban residents - these perceptions were shaped by socio-demographic characteristics of individuals (Chapter 3). Factors related to safety and security (such as fire risk to infrastructure) emerged as key features for setting spatially-explicit priorities for IAP management (Chapter 4). The association between vegetation and criminal activity may not always be determined by the biogeographical status of dominant plants (i.e. whether vegetation is dominated by native, alien, or invasive alien species), but rather on the structure they provide. A stronger link between crime and vegetation is likely to occur in areas where plant invasions have drastically altered vegetation structure, as is the case in the Cape Floristic Region (Chapter 5). At the local scale, nodes of high ES provision such as residential gardens and urban green spaces are characterized by the presence of large trees. However, many of these areas also experience numerous EDS due to invasions of alien trees and shrubs – particularly along rivers, in wetlands, and along the urban edge where tall alien trees have established and spread into natural vegetation. This suggests significant trade-offs regarding the management of species and the ES and EDS they provide (Chapter 6). Using and developing new approaches across disciplines and spatial scales, this thesis provides new insights on the role of alien and invasive plants in providing ES and EDS in urban areas. It highlights the need to integrate public perceptions into the planning and management of IAPs in urban areas to alleviate potential conflicts of interest; it also emphasises the importance of including ES assessments in the decision-making process. The findings will be useful for managers in all urban settings to guide the selection and prioritization of land parcels for IAP management at multiple spatial scales to maximise the provision of ES.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die volhoubare voorsiening van ekosisteemdienste (ED) is 'n kritieke kwessie in die voortgaande en ontwikkelende verstedelikingsproses wat geweldige druk op natuurlike hulpbronne in en rondom die stedelike omgewing plaas. Stedelike ekosisteme voorsien meervoudige ED vir menslike welstand. Hulle kan egter ook funksies, prosesse of eienskappe genereer wat lei tot voorgestelde of werklike negatiewe impakte op menslike welstand, genaamd ekosisteemwandienste (EWD). Vir die ontwikkeling van aanpasbare en volhoubare stede, is dit belangrik om die ED-EWD-kontras binne die konteks van die stedelike omgewing te verstaan. Baie uitheemse plante wat in stedelike gebiede regoor die wêreld ingebring is, wat spesifiek sleutel ED skep, versterk of herstel, is nou stewig ingewortel in die stedelike landskap en het komplekse sosiale en ekonomiese implikasies. Stedelike gebiede is veral geteister deur uitheemse indringerspesies, wat negatiewe impakte op bestaande ED veroorsaak of nuwe ED of EWD skep. As gevolg van die komplekse aard van interaksies tussen mense en uitheemse plante, manifesteer hierdie impakte op baie maniere. Indringerbestuur in stedelike gebiede is besonder uitdagend weens die komplekse interaksies tussen ekologiese, ekonomiese en sosiale elemente in die stedelike opset. Die persepsies van die uiteenlopende belanghebbendes met potensiële belangebotsings rondom indringerbestuur moet in ag geneem word met duidelike en deursigtige bestuursbesluite. ED en EWD moet met praktiese benaderings geintegreer word in die besluitnemingsprosesse wat nodig is om stedelike bestuurders en beplanners riglyne te gee. Met die beperkte hulpbronne vir inderingerbeheer, is doeltreffende priotisering noodsaaklik vir effektiewe grondbestuur en ekologiese herstel. In hoofstuk 2 is ‘n uitgebreide literatuuroorsig uitgevoer om die rol van uitheemse plante in die voorsiening van stedelike ED en EWD op wêreldwye skaal te bepaal. Hoofstuk 3 het die stad Kaapstad gebruik as 'n studie stelsel om lig te werp op die komplekse interaksies tussen stedelike inwoners en bestuurders, en uitheemse en indringerplante in 'n unieke ekologiese, politieke en sosiale omgewing. Om die persepsies van stedelike inwoners rakende die indringerplante te bepaal en die kapasiteit van die indringerplante om ED en EWD te lewer, is ‘n opname met vraelyste gedoen. In hoofstuk 4 is ‘n multikriteria-besluitnemingsanalise (met behulp van Analytic Hierarchy Process) uitgevoer om vir die stad 'n prioriteitsraamwerk te ontwikkel vir die bestuur van gebiede met indringerplante op ‘n stedelike en plaaslike skaal. Hoofstuk 5 beoordeel die impak van die indringerplante op veiligheid en sekuriteit deur die verband tussen stedelike plantegroei en kriminele aktiwiteit deur middel van vraelys-opnames te ondersoek, kriminele hofsake te ontleed en deur die grys literatuur te soek. Ten slotte in hoofstuk 6 is 'n benadering ontwikkel om verskeie beskikbare metodes en tegnieke (soos ‘Remote Sensing’) saam te voeg, om die rol van stedelike plantegroei (insluitende uitheemse en indringerplante) te assesseer in die verskaffing van ED en EWD op 'n plaaslike skaal in ‘n stedelike konteks. In stedelike ekosisteme regoor die wêreld is daar slegs ‘n klein aantal uitheemse plant spesies aangeteken wat verskeie ED verskaf. Sommige van hierdie spesies verskaf egter ook beduidende EWD (Hoofstuk 2). Indringerplante en die bestuur daarvan word sowel negatief as positief deur stedelike inwoners beskou, en hierdie persepsies is gevorm deur individue se sosio-demografiese eienskappe (Hoofstuk 3). Faktore wat verband hou met veiligheid en sekuriteit (soos brandrisiko vir infrastruktuur) het as sleutelkenmerk uitgekom, om duidelike ruimtelike prioriteite vir indringerbestuur te stel (Hoofstuk 4). Die verband tussen plantegroei en kriminele aktiwiteite kan nie altyd bepaal word deur die biogeografiese status van dominante plante nie (dit wil sê of plantegroei oorheers word deur inheemse, uitheemse of uitheemse indringers spesies), maar eerder op die struktuur wat hulle verskaf. Alhoewel 'n sterker verband tussen misdaad en plantegroei waarskynlik sal voorkom in gebiede waar plantindringing ‘n drasties verandering van oorspronklike plantegroei struktuur veroorsaak het (Hoofstuk 5). Op die plaaslike skaal word gebiede wat ‘n hoë ED voorsien, soos residensiële tuine en stedelike parke, gekenmerk deur die teenwoordigheid van groot bome. Baie van hierdie gebiede lewer egter ook talle EWD as gevolg van uitheemse bome en struike wat indring - veral langs riviere, in vleilande en langs die stadsgrense waar uitheemse bome vestig en versprei in die natuurlike plantegroei. Dit dui op beduidende teenstellings rakende die bestuur van spesies en die ED en EWD wat hulle verskaf (Hoofstuk 6). Met die gebruik van en ontwikkeling van nuwe benaderings oor verskeie dissiplines en ruimtelike skale, bied hierdie proefskrif belangrike insigte oor die rol van uitheemse en indringerplante in die verskaffing van ED en EWD in stedelike gebiede. Dit beklemtoon die noodsaaklikheid om publieke persepsies in die beplanning en bestuur van indringerplante in stedelike gebiede te integreer om potensiële konflik te verlig. Ook beklemtoon dit die belangrikheid om ED-assesserings in die besluitnemingsproses in te sluit. Die bevindinge is bruikbaar vir bestuurders van alle stedelike opsette vir leiding in die keuse en prioritisering van gebiede vir indringerbestuur op verskeie ruimtelike skale, sodat die maksimum ED voorsien kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/105742
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