Last month I gave the ceremonial first lecture of the academic year for our Faculty. The video is now online (see below). The presentation dips into a number of research projects I’ve contributed to in recent years in order to make a number of observations about the relationship between plants and people, notably with iconic ‘natural’ plants and problematic ‘invasive’ weeds. These observations include:
- In the case of endemic or charismatic species, we tend to celebrate their ‘naturality’ without taking into account their human history
- In the case of invasive alien species, we tend to blame the plants themselves, again without taking into account their human history
- Faced with the impossibility of eradicating many invasive plants, people around the world live with these plants, controlling them locally when relevant and adapting to new opportunities that they present.
This allows me to then to interrogate some of the central defining concepts of plant invasions, notably the alien/native distinction, the focus on plant (and not human) behaviour, and the excessive focus on negative impacts (and not positive ones).
For the details you’ll have to watch the presentation…. in French. If that doesn’t work for you, I’m preparing a revised version for a different audience at the Cambridge Conservation Seminar on February 8, 2017…
Here’s the video on the University website:
And a backup version on Vimeo: