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Practitioner perspectives on using nonnative plants for revegetation

  • Author(s): Gornish, Elise S
  • Brusati, Elizabeth
  • Johnson, Douglas W
  • et al.
Abstract

Restoration practitioners use both native and nonnative plant species for revegetation projects. Typically, when rehabilitating damaged working lands, more practitioners consider nonnative plants; while those working to restore habitat have focused on native plants. But this may be shifting. Novel ecosystems (non-analog communities) are commonly being discussed in academic circles, while practical factors such as affordability and availability of natives and the need for more drought tolerant species to accommodate climate change may be making nonnative species attractive to land managers. To better understand the current use of nonnatives for revegetation, we surveyed 192 California restoration stakeholders who worked in a variety of habitats. A large portion (42%) of them considered nonnatives for their projects, and of survey respondents who did not use nonnatives in vegetation rehabilitation, almost half indicated that they would consider them in the future. Across habitats, the dominant value of nonnatives for vegetation rehabilitation was found to be erosion control, and many respondents noted the high cost and unavailability of natives as important drivers of nonnative use in revegetation projects. Moreover, 37% of respondents noted they had changed their opinion or use of nonnatives in response to climate change.

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