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CONSERVATION PROGRAMS THAT PROMOTE INVASIVE SPECIES
Ganguli, A. C., D. M. Engle, S. D. Fuhlendorf, AND P. M. Mayer*. CONSERVATION PROGRAMS THAT PROMOTE INVASIVE SPECIES. Presented at Ecological Society of America, Tucson, AZ, August 06, 2002.
To inform the public.
Invasive plant species are degrading the structure and function of ecosystems throughout the world. Although most state and federal conservation agencies in the U.S. attempt to reduce the impact of invasive species, some agency activities can contribute to the spread of invasive species. Each year state and federal conservation agencies distribute and plant seedlings of trees and shrubs. Some of these species are invasive such as Juniperus virginiana. Fire suppression and intentional planting have resulted in the expansion of J. virginiana well beyond its pre-settlement range. Negative consequences associated with J. virginiana encroachment on grassland ecosystems include changes in plant and animal community composition, reductions in biodiversity, and alterations of biogeochemistry. Other consequences include human health problems and economic loss as a result of land degradation. We evaluated the extent of J. virginiana distribution programs throughout the United States, identified the major uses for the seedlings, and determined the longevity of the distribution programs. The number of seedlings distributed in 2001 was 2.3 million. The major uses for the seedlings include windbreaks, shelterbelts, wildlife habitat, and CRP plantings. Extensive planting of J. virginiana has expanded its range and provides a seed source where one did not previously exist. This ironic contradiction that conservation agencies are actively contributing to resource degradation through willful biopollution deserves immediate active intervention to curtail the practice.