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Don't hate "alien" plants, says York scientist
7:40am Friday 4th October 2013 in News
PLANTS which are branded “invaders” should be welcomed to the UK rather than hated, a York scientist has claimed.
Chris Thomas, professor of conservation biology at the University of York, spoke in defence of the likes of Himalayan balsam and rhododendron, which have been regarded as pests in this country, saying they add to biodiversity and their reputation is often based on an irrational dislike of a species. He said money should not be spent on tackling them as it was unnecessary and wasteful.
In a piece for the journal Nature, he said: “It is true some invasive species damage ecosystems and can eradicate resident species, particularly when they arrive on remote oceanic islands.
“But, on average, less than one native species dies out for each introduced species that arrives. It is a mistake to misdirect valuable and increasingly scarce conservation funds into unwinnable wars, especially when the enemy is not particularly damaging. Trying to control Himalayan balsam throughout England, just because it is alien, is a waste of effort.”
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