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Challenge of weed risk assessment (WRA) for ecological restoration in China: The case of Rhus typhina L. and the new officially released weed risk assessment system

Wang, G. M., Yang, J. C., Jiang, C. D., Jiang, G. M., Yu, J. B., Shao, H. B., Han, G. X., Gao, Y. J.
Plant biosystems 2013 v.147 no.4 pp. 1166-1174
Rhus typhina, afforestation, ecological invasion, ecological restoration, environmental degradation, humans, introduced species, people, risk assessment, social factors, weeds, China
China has conducted many ecological restoration projects to alleviate environmental degradation, with numerous alien species having good adaptability widely used for fast effect. However, unsuitable plant selection may bring negative impacts and even cause biological invasion. Weed risk assessment (WRA) is therefore indispensable, yet it is often contentious especially concerning those species that has been widely utilized before weedy attributes were noted. In this paper, we take Rhus typhina L. as an example to illustrate how scientific researches and social factors can influence the evaluation of alien species and cause challenge to WRA. The evaluation of this species is not only a pure scientific issue but also influenced by many factors such as the introduction history, current utilization status in afforestation, and divergent underlying values varying through persons and sectors. These factors determined the kind of data to be assessed, which lead to different evaluations, therefore, causing challenge to its WRA. We further examined newly officially released WRA system in China from the invasion biology viewpoint, arguing that it had some major flaws in design and validation and need much improvement. Considering the human dimension and biological characters together, we suggest that the “black list” and “green list” approaches with rigorous expert assessment should be adopted simultaneously in alien species management in China.