[en] We conducted a survey to determine how two professional sectors in Belgium, horticulture professionals and nature reserve managers (those directly involved in conservation), view the issues associated with invasive plant species. We developed and utilized a questionnaire that addressed the themes of awareness, concept and use of language, availability of information, impacts and, finally, control and available solutions. Using co-inertia analyses, we tested to what extent the perception of invasive alien species (IAS) was dependent upon the perception of Nature in general. Only forty-two percent of respondent horticulture professionals and eighty-two percent of nature reserve managers had a general knowledge of IAS. Many individuals in both target groups nonetheless had an accurate understanding of the scientific issues. Our results therefore suggest that the manner in which individuals within the two groups view, or perceive, the IAS issue was more the result of lack of information than simply biased perceptions of target groups. Though IAS perceptions by the two groups diverged, they were on par with how they viewed Nature in general. The descriptions of IAS by participants converged with the ideas and concepts frequently found in the scientific literature. Both managers and horticulture professionals expressed a strong willingness to participate in programs designed to prevent the spread of, and damage caused by, IAS. Despite this, the continued commercial availability of many invasive species highlighted the necessity to use both mandatory and voluntary approaches to reduce their re-introduction and spread. The results of this study provide stakeholders and conservation managers with practical information on which communication and management strategies can be based.
Politique Scientifique Fédérale (Belgique) = Belgian Federal Science Policy ; Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS