Application of different strategies for eradication of invasive alien plant species from Natura 2000 sites in the Maltese Islands.

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Joseph Buhagiar , Reeya Ghose Roy, Arthur Lamoliere, Marco Iannaccone

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Anthropogenic impacts on natural habitats are a major concern for the Maltese Islands. A huge burden arises from intentional or casual introduction of invasive alien plant species (IAPS) in Natura 2000 sites. IAPS are invasive to different degrees, depending in part on propagule pressure. For certain IAPs, removal is not so straightforward and different strategies have to be employed in their eradication. It is imperative to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the IAP, weaken the plant to reduce its growth, collect propagules and reduce dispersion, as well as eradicate seedlings. A comparison of the different strategies employed for the removal of two IAPs has been explored for different sites in the Maltese Islands. Cardiospermum grandiflorum growing in a dry water course valley is being effectively controlled by cutting off the thick main stems at ground level and collecting seed capsules when still soaked with rain or dew thus reducing seed dispersion, as well as visiting site at regular intervals to uproot seedlings especially after periods of conditions favourable to seed germination. By comparison, eradication of Agave spp. starts by systematically removing mother plant leaf blades by cutting at their bases followed by removal of suckers. Concurrently, the timely removal of developing or mature inflorescences and collection of parthenogenic plantlets can lead to effective control and eradication. Management effectiveness is assessed from decreased propagule pressure, reduced area coverage by IAPs and increased regrowth of the suppressed indigenous vegetation occurring on site.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program