Nature Out of Place; Biological Invasions
in the Global Age
by Jason Van Driesche and Roy Van Driesche. Island Press. 2000.
363 p. $30.
Curious why the fuss about invasive alien species?
Here is a book that provides compelling explanations. The
authors takea tag-team approach. Son Jason gives first-hand accounts
of his visits to some restoration efforts around the country. Father
Roy takes the bigger view with expository essays. The blend of
styles works because they are harmonized with sincerity and biophilia.
while geared for North American readers, the many insights and
practical solutions given could be of much interest to dwellers on
Structured in three parts, Part one makes the case
that bioinvasion is a form of global change, why a single global
Coliseum may not
allow for pandas or kiwis
or red-legged frogs; some species just do not get along. There is also an
interesting history of transportation technology and its influence
Part two examines strategies to prevent and control bioinvasions and how
ongoing human activities often thwart native species recovery and enhance
species dominance. The chapter on forest pests makes abundantly clear that
log can ruin a forest.
The disproportionate emphasis on biological control seemed
lopsided and almost smacked of featherbedding for one of the authors. However,
specialty is understandable. Besides, the early disasters of sloppy biocontrol
were honestly admitted, and current weaknesses sternly exposed. An outline
for a more rigorous framework to improve biocontrol safety and effectiveness
was also given.
Part three puts people back into the picture and covers a
couple case studies of outreach efforts to raise awareness about restoration
work and improving prevention,
arguing that the "restoration of native ecosystems--and in particular,
control of invasive species--is as much a social challenge as an ecological
"In the context of chemical pollution, risk abatement
is based on the fundamental principle that risk of damage declines
declines...In a biological context, a 95 percent reduction in risk
does not mean that 95 percent less harm will occur; it simply means
that there is now a 5 percent chance that
harm will occur." --NATURE OUT OF PLACE
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