Weeds – Journal of the Asian-Pacific Weed Science Society
||Type of article
Reflecting on the Obstacles to Uses of Colonizing Species (‘Weeds’) as Bio-resources
Nimal R. Chandrasena
Current Address: Nature Consulting, 17, Billings Way, Winthrop, WA 6150, Australia
Colonizing species, weeds, utilization of weeds
Ecology, Weed Science, Restoration Ecology Conservation science and related disciplines are now well-developed. These disciplines have the knowledge, capacity and tools, firstly, to recommend the prevention of potentially risky plant introductions; and secondly, to develop methods to eradicate, contain or manage problematic species and reduce any harmful effects, either to food systems, human health, or the environment. However, in all of these ‘sciences’, the ideas for the utilization of colonizing taxa are not well articulated; nor are the opportunities adequately pursued. Why? we may ask. The utilization of ‘weedy’ colonizing species for direct human benefits and other practical applications is a much-neglected area within Weed Science. It is the result of an inadequate ecological understanding of weeds, which I call ‘weed-illiteracy’. Most weed scientists and even some ecologists and conservation scientists have been brought up hearing a flawed myth that ‘all weedy species are bad all the time’ and some may even engulf the world!
A change in attitude and a shift of focus are required to redress the issue. Weedy taxa have been blamed and used as a scapegoat for too long to hide human follies (related to disturbances caused by land-clearing, deforestation, inappropriate forms of agriculture, and excessive urban population growth). Changing our perceptions of colonizing species will allow weed scientists to explore the benefits of a positive relationship with a vast array of such taxa and their unique capabilities. Faced with the uncertainties of a changing climate, not to change our attitude towards weedy species appears another human folly in the making.