As a contrarian by nature, and restorationist by vocation, my eye was caught by this article in Scientific American. It reports the heretical claim (in ecological circles at least) of a Harvard trained plant biologist, Dr. Mark Davis, who contends that invasive species may not be the problem they are often depicted to be, with the exception of some like the long-standing Knotweed legal cases which have created a bit of turbulence to their local eco-systems.
This hits close to home. Restoration Systems spends a good deal of time and money removing invasive plants; Kudzu, Privet, Multiflora rose, Canada Thistle, etc, on our properties and managed easements. Controlling invasives is (excuse the pun) a perennial subject in the mitigation field, and of deep concern to regulatory authorities and environmental interests who are worried a mitigation site might entertain a plant from beyond, and thus be cheapened and undermined in its value as wetland or stream mitigation.
I generally have not questioned our eradication efforts, since it seems to make common sense for someone restoring an ecosystem to remove the plants that historically do not occur there. And, just as importantly, doing so is required by regulatory agencies on all our properties if the site is to be debited as mitigation. So, unlike our competitors — or the state Ecosystem Enhancement Program for that matter — RS employs persistent and continuous in-house species monitoring, control and eradication at each of out sites. This sweaty, tedious and somewhat dangerous work is performed by RS professionals Dave Schiller, Bryan Robbins and Johnathan Anders. Dave and Bryan are state licensed applicators of the hazardous chemicals required.
Dr. Davis seems to think this all may be largely a waste of time. Read the article, and perhaps his papers, and lets me know what you think. Is controlling non-naturally occurring plant species a wise use of time and dollars in the field of mitigation and ecosystem services? I hope to hear from someone.