The Big Picture provides a look at the invasive species problem from the backyard to around the globe. It addresses how biological invaders disrupt ecosystems by altering nutrient cycles, fire regimes, and hydrology, changes that in turn impact people as well as native plant and animal communities. Biological invaders are also taking an economic toll in terms of production and the enormous costs of managing them. Many examples in this section illustrate the threats and impacts invading species pose, as well as how people enable these species to disperse and spread, both accidentally and intentionally.

From global partnerships to local governments, strategies have been developed and implemented to prevent non-native species from invading and spreading, and to lessen their impacts. Scientists and policymakers from around the world play key roles in developing effective strategies. At regional and local levels, non-governmental stakeholders such as agricultural producers, conservation organizations, and private landowners also have mobilized on the invasive plant issue. The national strategies and overviews within this section provide information on large-scale approaches to addressing this far-reaching problem.

Resources at Risk contains information about natural resources, their importance to the functioning of ecosystems, and the services they provide to people. Natural resource topics covered in this section include ecosystem services, biodiversity, water, soil, and climate change.

Biodiversity, the variety of all living things and their interactions, provides valuable ecosystem services that are crucial to human lives and livelihoods. Examples of ecosystem services include the pollination of food crops by insects, flood control by wetlands, and the medicinal properties of native plants. Invasive species pose significant threats to some natural resources because they can alter their ecological function, which consequently impacts native species and ecosystem services required by people.

Land management activities that degrade natural resources can make them more vulnerable to invasion. Human activities also create pathways for invasive species to move between areas, thus exposing susceptible resources to invasion. Educating people about the benefits of natural resources, how they function ecologically, and how to implement sustainable land stewardship practices can be instrumental in prevention and in supporting large-scale invasive plant management efforts.

Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity


Soil and Climate

Tools of the Trade encompasses a wide range of topics, which include incorporating ecological knowledge into land-use decisions and invasive plant management strategies, and materials for supporting land stewardship and outreach efforts.

Paramount to making decisions for any kind of land management practice or strategy is an understanding of ecology. Ecological knowledge provides the underpinnings necessary to make land-use decisions that sustain the natural functions that support life and, indirectly, human needs and values such as ecosystem services, recreation, extractive uses, and cultural beliefs. In managing invasive plants, ecological knowledge can help land managers increase their success in developing more sustainable strategies for creating and maintaining desired plant communities.

Also included in this section is information on systematic steps for weed management, integrated weed management tools and techniques, and stewardship practices. The role of fire in shaping ecosystems is addressed, along with methods to manage weeds after wildfire and the use of fire as a weed control tool. Other resources provided are principles and practices for landscaping with native plants and for backyard conservation, and examples of outreach tools that can be used as templates for designing local or regional materials.

Management and Stewardship

Outreach and Awareness

Keeping It Together offers materials that are valuable for developing and maintaining cooperative efforts in managing invasive plants. The design of a landscape-scale management effort is explained in the materials on Cooperative Weed Management Areas. This formal approach has been instrumental in bringing together landowners and land managers as a unified force in tackling invasive plant problems.

Also included in this section are sets of information sheets that offer proven methods for facilitating work groups. The ability of group members to work well together in a focused manner is crucial to making progress toward project goals. These materials address working with a diversity of stakeholders on complex natural resource issues (such as invasive plants), and techniques for problem solving and for building organizations and community relationships. Guidelines for writing grants to support weed management projects are also provided.