Mining waste dumped into Portmán Bay continues to release metals into the sea 25 years later

The waters of the Mediterranean Sea continue to receive dissolved metals from the mining waste deposited in Portmán Bay (Murcia) 25 years after the cessation of mining activity.

A new ICTA-UAB project to assess the impacts of micro- and nano-plastics in the tropical and temperate oceans

A new project led by ICTA-UAB researcher Patrizia Ziveri is one of five projects selected for funding by the Joint Programming Initiative Healthy and Productive Seas and Oceans (JPI Oceans).

Big data reveals extraordinary unity underlying life’s diversity

Limits to growth lie at the heart of how all living things function, according to a new study carried out by ICTA-UAB researchers  .

Jeroen van den Bergh, awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University of the Netherlands

The environmental economist at ICTA-UAB Prof. Dr Jeroen van den Bergh was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University of the Netherlands.

Paris Agreement hampered by inconsistent pledges, new ICTA-UAB research finds

Some countries' Paris Climate Agreement pledges may not be as ambitious as they appear, according a new study carried out by researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB).

High lead concentrations found in Amazonian wildlife

Researchers from ICTA-UAB and the UVic-UCC detect high levels of lead concentration in wildlife samples from the Peruvian Amazon caused by lead-based ammunition and oil-related pollution in extraction areas.

Study gauges trees’ potential to slow global warming in the future

The Pyrenean forests, the Cantabrian coast and Galicia show an important potential to accumulate even larger amounts of carbon dioxide in the future and thus help to slow down the increase in CO2 concentrations which are warming the planet.

Why do environmentalists eat meat?

A study by researchers at the ICTA-UAB analyses the reasons why environmentally-minded scientists find it difficult to give up meat consumption, one of the world's greatest environmental problems.

La gestión del verde urbano permite incrementar la presencia de pájaros en las ciudades

Incrementar la biodiversidad del verde urbano permitiría aumentar la presencia de aves paseriformes en las ciudades mediterráneas, según un estudio científico realizado por investigadores del Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Ambientales de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) que analiza qué estrategias hay que implementar sobre la vegetación urbana para conseguir "naturalizar" las ciudades favoreciendo la entrada de flora y fauna.

The Ebro River annually dumps 2.2 billion microplastics into the sea

An ICTA-UAB study analyses the distribution and accumulation of microplastics from one of the main rivers of the western Mediterranean.

European project to support rooftop greenhouses projects

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) is launching an open call to support rooftop greenhouse projects, in the framework of GROOF Project.

El ICTA-UAB participa en el proyecto que habilitará 10 escuelas de Barcelona como refugios climáticos

El Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología Ambientales de la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) es una de las instituciones impulsoras de un proyecto que habilitará 10 escuelas de Barcelona como refugios climáticos para disminuir el impacto de las altas temperaturas del verano.

New study dismisses green growth policies as a route out of ecological emergency

Researchers from ICTA-UAB and the Goldsmiths University of London suggest that emissions reduction is only compatible with a lower economical degrowth or a degrowth scenario.

Indigenous knowledge, key to a successful ecosystem restoration

Ecological restoration projects actively involving indigenous peoples and local communities are more successful. This is the result of a study carried out by the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB).
News
New cross-boundary approach for addressing wicked weed problems

Date: 2019-05-03

 

Weed species continue to spread and management costs continue to mount, in spite of best management practices and efforts by research and extension personnel who promote them to land managers.

The issue is weeds aren’t just a problem for the landowner where they grow. They are collectively everyone’s problem because they don’t recognize property lines, and that is how they must be managed.

This is the result of a study led by researchers from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Texas A&M University that looks at weed control through a cross-boundary lens. The study was carried out by a team of 15 researchers representing entities around the world, led by ICTA-UAB researcher Dr. Sonia Graham and Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan from Texas A&M University. Their findings have been recently published in the journal Nature Plants “Considering Weed Management as a Social Dilemma Bridges Individual and Collective Interests”.

The paper is a call to action for scholars and practitioners to broaden their conceptualization and approaches to weed management problems, beginning with evaluating the “public good” characteristics of specific weed management challenges and applying context-specific design principles to realize successful and sustainable weed management.

“The public-goods lens highlights the broader social vision required for successful weed management,” Graham said. “Public goods like weed management are best achieved with the help of many people living and working across landscapes. We need to make the most of the diverse interests, knowledge and skill sets of those involved in managing weeds.”

Agricultural and natural landscapes worldwide are affected by weeds, but management techniques have primarily been developed for individual landowners. These practices rarely look at how control from a collective perspective would improve overall weed management outcomes.

“We suggest that a major limitation of current best management practices is an underappreciation for the complex, multi-scale and collective nature of the weed problem,” he said. “We believe practices will be more effective if they are complemented by landscape-scale design principles that encourage cross-boundary coordination and cooperation.”

Graham added that the team framed the landscape-scale weed management issue as a social dilemma, where trade-offs occur between individual and collective interests. Combining perspectives from biologists and social scientists, the team applied a transdisciplinary systems approach to four pressing landscape-scale weed management challenges: 

- Plant biosecurity – The protection of plant resources from alien pests is a key policy and regulatory tool governments use to limit intentional or accidental spread of weeds, locally and globally. Plant biosecurity includes quarantine, inspection of freight at ports and certified treatment schemes such as bulk fumigation of certain types of cargo. Some governments fail to make these necessary investments to protect global biodiversity.

- Weed seed contamination – Weeds, especially those closely related to crops, are common contaminants of crop seeds and can spread through equipment sharing. For example, weedy rice is a noxious weed that threatens global rice production. Due to its propensity for seed shattering and long seed dormancy, weedy rice is an efficient invader that can cause up to 80 percent yield loss in rice and substantially reduce marketable grain quality.

- Herbicide susceptibility – Herbicide-resistant weeds are proliferating exponentially, threatening farm productivity and profitability. At least 60 countries have reported herbicide-resistant weeds, including about 500 species-herbicide group combinations. Treating herbicide-resistant weeds costs around $4 billion annually in the U.S. alone.

- Weed biological control – Classic weed biological control employs host-specific arthropods or pathogens from a weed’s native environment to reduce weed populations in invaded systems. These strategies can have high benefit-to-cost ratios due to long-lasting, low-input costs, and provide management options where other tools are unavailable or impractical. 

Dr. Bagavathiannan said that across these challenges, the public goods nature of weeds requires active contributions and development of shared goals, and approaches must respect the unique perspectives and diverse capacities of contributors. 

“Achieving such an agreement requires good working relationships, or at least shared values, where contributors are willing to transparently demonstrate their efforts and contribute shared resources to help those who are least able to contribute,” he said.

Describing their findings, Graham outlined four new principles for landscape-scale weed management: clearly articulate shared goals and secure commitments from contributors; establish good working relationships and shared values among contributors; make individual contributions transparent; and generate pooled resources to support weakest-link problems or address asymmetries in the public good. 

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