Invasive plants are those that are introduced in a foreign environment and which spread producing adverse effects. There are several ways to combat them and stop their proliferation by means of the use of technical solutions whose effectiveness varies according to the features of the species. A long-term solution alternative is the prevention through awareness-raising campaigns, which should be combined with a continual monitoring of the health status of forests.

The importance of preventing the spread of invasive plants

Invasive plants are exotic species that, after their introduction in a new environment, spread very quickly causing a negative impact. These herbs have also the capacity to proliferate from a fragment creating new seedlings. They can be found everywhere around us, both in gardens and along the roads. This omnipresence allows them to multiply rapidly, thus extending over a vast area and long distances.

Some of the most common invasive species include the Acacia Dealbata, which is also known as mimosa and which is present in the Mediterranean coast. Another insidious variety is the Reynoutria Japonica which is almost impossible to eliminate due to its root system composed of rhizomes.

This kind of plants must be controlled for environmental reasons. They constitute the second cause for the loss of biodiversity after deforestation associated with urbanization. Their introduction causes the modification of several parameters of the ecosystem to the point that its composition, structure and functioning are severely affected.

The competition between these plants and native species produces a gradual disappearance of the latter, which results in an inevitably loss of biodiversity. Animal species may also be affected by this situation due to the modification of their natural habitat.

Although the introduction of new species has been carried out for many centuries, it is in the last couple of decades that such practice has been exponentially increased. It is due to the promotion of trade which involves the transport of goods between distant countries.

Useful strategies that aim to prevent ecologic imbalances

Preventive control is intended to avoid the introduction of new species. However, there are some strategies that can be useful to combat plants that are already installed. To elude the propagation of seeds it is advisable to uproot the sprouts from the garden before they have the chance to flourish.

Fragmentation should also be avoided by means of scouring operations, especially in the case of species that are difficult to eradicate such as those of the Genus Lagarosiphon. Ivy is a particularly intrusive plant which can damage the walls of buildings and houses. The recommended control technique in this situation implies cutting the trunk and leaves.

The operation can be completed with a chemical treatment based on concentrated lime. The solution should be poured and let stand for a period of 24 hours. The application of the herbicide will kill the plant as it penetrates the trunk and leaves.

Another recommended technique involves biological control. It implies the use of plants that can compete with the invasive species. However, it is worth to mention that prevention is always the best choice, since eradication processes are difficult and costly, and some of them only provide a temporary solution.