Invasive Plant Management Decision Analysis Tool (IPMDAT)
The IPMDAT was created by a team of scientists from New York chapters of The Nature Conservancy to help land stewards make strategic decisions about invasive species control projects. The iMapInvasives team from the New York Natural Heritage Program and the Florida Resources and Environmental Analysis Center helped transform this guide into an online, interactive tool that is open to anyone. If you have an iMapInvasives account, it can be used to store and share the results of your IPMDAT session.
To Control or Not to Control? That is the Question.
Natural area managers need to prioritize scarce resources (such as available funds and manpower) when deciding whether or not to manage invasive species. Recently there has been a lively debate on what invasive species control projects are warranted. Most agree that to justify spending resources on control efforts:
the species must be causing serious economic or environmental harm or harm to human health,
the project should have a high probability of success, and
the work results in a good return on the investment.
Control projects should also result in clear conservation outcomes. In practice, it is often difficult to decide if all these criteria are met. The Invasive Plant Management Decision Analysis Tool (IPMDAT) assists in deciding if an invasive plant control project meets these criteria.
The IPMDAT is comprised of a strategy-selection decision tree and three subsequent trees for specific control strategies (e.g. eradication, containment/exclusion and suppression) to determine whether control is feasible given the socio-political environment, biological attributes of the plant, effectiveness of control methods, risk of non-target impacts, and available resources. If the project is determined to be feasible, then the user is asked to weigh the costs and benefits of the project. The use of this tool allows for decisions on invasive plant control to be more transparent, understandable and fully documented. As a result, it is expected that more focused invasive control projects will be implemented using limited resources more strategically.
In addition to the IPMDAT, The Nature Conservancy also has an Invasive Plant Management Plan Template available online. This template can be modified to suit the scale and goals of any plant management project. It is useful as a reference point for making decisions on where to focus resources and serves as a communication tool to various decision makers including town managers, board members, potential contractors, and future funders.