Preventing horticultural introductions of invasive plants: potential efficacy of voluntaryinitiatives

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Biological Invasions





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Although prevention is the most cost-effective way to avoid the enormous expenses associated with plant invasions, invasive plants continue to be imported as trade commodities for horticultural use. With very little government regulation of horticultural imports of invasive plants, efforts have turned toward fostering voluntary initiatives to encourage self-regulation by the horticulture trade. Our study takes the first step toward evaluating the potential success of these voluntary initiatives. We conducted a survey of nursery professionals to gauge their perceptions of invasive species, the role of the horticulture trade in invasive plant introductions, and their participation—potential and actual—in preventive measures outlined in the St Louis Voluntary Codes of Conduct for nursery professionals. We found nursery professionals to be highly aware of invasive plants and to accept responsibility as a trade for horticultural introductions. Although only 7% of respondents had heard of the St Louis Voluntary Codes of Conduct, the majority (57%) reported having participated in at least two of seven preventive measures, and most (78%) reported willingness to engage in the majority of preventive measures. We found that several factors significantly predict increased participation in preventive measures, particularly awareness of invasive plants and involvement in trade associations. We also identified incentives and obstacles to participating in preventive behaviors, including “concern for the environment” and “lack of information,” respectively. Our results suggest that participation in voluntary initiatives will improve through increased outreach, and we provide specific recommendations for improving participation in voluntary programs in the horticulture trade.

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