An approach to the development of a national strategy for controlling invasive alien plant species: The case of Parthenium hysterophorus in South Africa


  • Colette Terblanche Independent consultant, Vryheid, South Africa
  • Ingrid Nänni Invasive Species Programme, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch Research Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Haylee Kaplan Invasive Species Programme, South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch Research Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Lorraine W. Strathie Agricultural Research Council – Plant Protection Research Institute, South Africa
  • Andrew J. McConnachie Agricultural Research Council – Plant Protection Research Institute, South Africa
  • Jeremy Goodall Agricultural Research Council – Plant Protection Research Institute, South Africa
  • Brian W. v van Wilgen Centre for Invasion Biology, Department of Botany and Zoology, Stellenbosch University, South Africa


Biological control, geographic differentiation, impacts, indicators, human health, management plans


Invasive alien species require co-ordinated strategic management if negative impacts are to be effectively avoided. Here we describe a strategy for the management of Parthenium hysterophorus L. (Asteraceae) in South Africa. P. hysterophorus is an annual herb native to tropical America, which has become invasive in over 30 countries. The strategy sets goals for (1) the prevention of spread to new areas; (2) local eradication of isolated populations; (3) containment in areas where eradication is not possible; and (4) actions to protect assets where containment is no longer an option. We developed both a national strategy to set policy and to monitor progress towards goals at a national level and an implementation plan to set goals and timeframes for their achievement at local levels. It is not clear, at this stage, whether or not the goals of the strategy are achievable because implementation will face many challenges arising from ecological features of the target plant, social and cultural practices that will influence management, inadequate levels of funding and multiple political considerations. Our strategy proposes regular assessment using high-level indicators, a practice that is widely recognised as essential but seldom implemented at a national scale. Because the outcomes are uncertain, it is vital that regular monitoring of outcomes should be instituted from the start, so that both appropriate adjustments can be made to the strategy and lessons for the implementation of similar strategies elsewhere can be derived.


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How to Cite

Terblanche, C., Nänni, I., Kaplan, H., Strathie, L. W., McConnachie, A. J., Goodall, J., & van Wilgen, B. W. v. (2016). An approach to the development of a national strategy for controlling invasive alien plant species: The case of Parthenium hysterophorus in South Africa. Bothalia, African Biodiversity & Conservation, 46(1). Retrieved from



Original research, Reviews, Strategies, Case studies