demonization of plants

Building walls, constructing fences, keeping out aliens, talking about macho swagger these are topics usually confined to the political sphere.  Language is not a topic of  restoration ecology conferences.  Paddy Woodworth was the first speaker at the NYBG Invasive Species Summit on Friday, November 3.  He spent most of his time talking about “minding our language.”  Demonizing plants, glamourizing degradation, focusing on “alien” plants, migration, non-native, has implications.  “Conservation is about human beings.”

Woodworth brought a unique perspective to the conversation.  Ecological restoration is an intentional activity. The recovering of an eco-system is all about reversing the damage that humans have caused.


Woodworth advocated for a 3-step approach:  early detection, rapid response, long-term management.  HIs example was a project in South Africa, “Working for Water.”

Since its inception in 1995, the programme has cleared more than one million hectares of invasive alien plants providing jobs and training to approximately 20 000 people from among the most marginalized sectors of society per annum. Of these, 52% are women.

Paddy Woodworth

WfW considers the development of people as an essential element of environmental conservation. Short-term contracs jobs created through the clearing activities are undertaken, with the emphasis on endeavouring to recruite women (the target is 60%), youth (20%) and disabled (5%). Creating an enabling environment for skills training, it is investing in the development of communities wherever it works. Implementing HIV and Aids projects and other socio- development initiatives are important objectives.

Woodworth’s last words:  “Constant monitoring is the price of ecological liberty.”

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