Environmental management | 13 Nov 2014
A Monty, M Eugène and G Mahy
Vegetation management often involves shredding to dispose of cut plant material or to destroy the vegetation itself. In the case of invasive plants, this can represent an environmental risk if the shredded material exhibits vegetative regeneration capacities. We tested the effect of shredding on aboveground and below-ground vegetative material of five ornamental widespread invaders in Western Europe that are likely to be managed by cutting and shredding techniques: Buddleja davidii (butterfly bush, Scrophulariaceae), Fallopia japonica (Japanese knotweed, Polygonaceae), Spiraea × billardii Hérincq (Billard’s bridewort, Rosaceae), Solidago gigantea (giant goldenrod, Asteraceae), and Rhus typhina L. (staghorn sumac, Anacardiaceae). We looked at signs of vegetative regeneration and biomass production, and analyzed the data with respect to the season of plant cutting (spring vs summer), the type of plant material (aboveground vs below-ground), and the shredding treatment (shredded vs control). All species were capable of vegetative regeneration, especially the below-ground material. We found differences among species, but the regeneration potential was generally still present after shredding despite a reduction of growth rates. Although it should not be excluded in all cases (e.g., destruction of giant goldenrod and staghorn sumac aboveground material), the use of a shredder to destroy woody alien plant material cannot be considered as a general management option without significant environmental risk.
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