Six New Concepts for Exotic Plant Management
1.) The Four-Times Rule on Exotic Plants.
Your exotic plant management technologies should be robust enough to convert weed infested areas four times faster than they became infested. Otherwise, you'll never be able to catch up with exotic plant infestations.
For example, let's say that it took 100 years for California's 25 million acres of grasslands to get infested with Yellow Star thistle. Then, any technologies you use, should be able to eliminate all of California's Star thistle four times faster than it took the land to get the infestation--or 25 years.
That means, your technologies for managing Yellow Star thistle in California, should be robust enough to convert one million acres annually.
2.) Get solid local native ecosystems at the end of the exotic control process.
Whichever way you choose to manage exotic plants, you want solid local native ecosystems in their place when you're finished. Our cover article in the June 2002 ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION journal (Univ. of Wisc. press) at was one of the first to suggest this approach regarding exotic plant management.
Generally, the exotic plant researchers and exotic plant managers in North America have only gone half-way previously--they just had their "kill-the-exotic" sunglasses on, and were focused on a "War on Weeds" rather than to visualize what the world would look,like, once the war was over.
When you focus on the native ecosystem, you are ultimately focused on managing the native plants, and the exotics fall into second place in your list of concerns.
This will be one of the most successful concepts that will move exotic plant management forward in the future.
3.)Begin using your local native soil seedbank immediately, before you lose it.
Before our article, nobody in North America had ever restored any areas, only using the local soil seedbank---that's why our article got the front cover last year. We always hear about the "Weed-seedbank", but until our article was published, nobody had ever breathed one single word about the native seedbank that might still be in the soil.
Mr. Shaw's property contained a total of over 200 species of native seeds sleeping underneath the exotics. However those seeds were estimated at over 100 years old. That means, we may only have 20-30 years of viability left, and within that short amount of time, learn how to utilize them before those seeds die.
Restoration of the native ecosystems is so much easier if the right species of seeds, and the right genetic material just pops up in place. Plus it eliminates the costs of test plots, seed collecting, commercial reproduction, and sowing, which can increase the costs per acre ten-fold, over just using the local seedbank.
This is a very important concept, if the Californian exotic plant managers can start to utilize the soil-seedbank while the seeds are still here, which will allow for the relatively easy conversion of exotic areas, back to local native ecosystems. But they have to start right now, and don't waste any more time.
4.) Ask for Licensed Technologies for exotic plant management.
People get patented technologies when they spray weeds: Monsanto has a patent on Roundup; and everyone uses Bill Gates operating systems and Office programs in their computers---so people should expect that for successful and efficient exotic plant management technologies, that they should start asking for licensed technologies for that also.
I happen to have the first business that is suggesting to get licensed technologies for exotic plant management and for ecological restoration, but there was a time about 40 years ago, when all the computer software in the world was unlicensed also.
Without any licensing process for software, there was no economic incentive to make it run efficiently. To compute one problem could take a whole night of computer time, because nobody had any incentive to write the programs to run efficiently on the machines.
Then a guy named Ken Kolence, discovered a way to make software more efficient, and offered the first licensed software in 1967. His software was designed to make other programs run more efficiently. He invented, for example, the disk defragmentation program, which we still use today on our own computers.
Today, all software is licensed, even "free" or shareware, you still have to agree to a licensing agreement. But before Ken Kolence suggested that it should be licensed, there was no incentive to have a business to specifically write programs, or write an efficient product.
Licensed technologies for exotic management and ecological restoration will transform both of those efforts, giving inventors an economic incentive to find more and more efficient methods, so that we can do larger and larger scale projects, and eventually cheaper and cheaper.
Without licensed technologies, there no economic incentive to do any of those things, just like there was no incentive to write good computer programs before 1967.
5) Ask for Performance Standards for any technologies used to manage exotics.
Is the technology you're using really doing anything to convert those exotic areas back to local native ecosystems? To what degree and how fast?
If your technologies can't give you rapid measurable results, then maybe its time to start looking for, or start inventing more efficient technologies? As an example, the results I want to see with my own technologies in a yellow star-thistle infested area, is 100% elimination of the star thistle within 90 days, and no future maintenance, and you can read about that at http://www.ecoseeds.com/starthistle.html
In dealing with any exotic plant management area in California, everyone should go out annually to measure what their current technologies can give them, and record it somewhere for everyone else to see. In that way, you can start to see where the efficiencies and inefficiencies exist, and then perhaps improvements can be invented to make things more efficient.
6.) End the "War on Weeds"
What I'm proposing instead is: Why don't we use science to convert exotic plant infested areas, back to local native ecosystems?
Instead of a "War", we should start a "Conversion Process". Why don't we, without hostility, conflict, antagonism, or with genocide in mind, instead encourage the exotics to give up ground permanently, to allow the local native ecosystems to have a place in the landscape also?
Conducting a Conversion Process back to the original local native ecosystem, is really the only way to deal with the exotics. You have to respect the fact that their seeds have title to the soil for at least the next 100 years, and no amount of force is going to make them give up their title. So you have to find a scientific way to negotiate with them, so that their viable seeds will remain in the soil but never sprout---meanwhile, above-ground, the native ecosystems can come back and continue to exist. You can read more at http://www.ecoseeds.com/juicy.gossip.fifteen.html.
The Conversion Process could produce GLORIOUS results, and
we have some example of that potential to show you at http://www.ecoseeds/com/wild.html.