Year

2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Geography and Sustainable Communities

Abstract

Invasive plants pose serious challenges to the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources. In many rural communities in Australia, invasive plants are causing significant economic impacts on agriculture, grazing and forestry. However, despite the need to control invasive plants, management is far from straightforward. As rural landscapes undergo increasing lifestyleorientated rural land ownership and the retreat of agriculture, invasive plant management is becoming increasingly complicated. The social heterogeneity of these ‘rural-amenity landscapes’ is changing how weed impacts are prioritised—from production to conservation—as well as the motivations and abilities of landholders to respond. Further, invasive plants can at times exceed human control, and despite the best efforts of managers, drive novel ways of living with these species. In this context, invasive plant management is more than the sum of ecological science that defines species’ invasiveness and the characteristics of landscapes that are ‘invadeable’, but is also bound within these complex and ongoing social and ecological relations. The inextricably social and environmental relationships that are changing the makeup of rural landscapes and invasive plant management are at the core of this thesis.

This thesis examines the human and more-than-human relationships that shape landholders’ attitudes and actions toward invasive plant management in a rural landscape in southeast Australia. It builds on growing national and international research on the changing social and environmental composition of rural landscapes, which is creating new, or perpetuating existing, natural resource management problems. Focusing on individual landholders’ and local government agency staff’s management attitudes, knowledge, and practices, I investigate the following: (1) whether increasing social heterogeneity is complicating attempts to coordinate invasive plant management across individual land parcels; and (2) how landholders’ management decisions are formed by, but also challenged by ecological conditions.

This thesis is unavailable until Friday, May 03, 2019

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