Can we implement useful methods for controlling the invasive Acacia melanoxylon?.
Non-native plant invasions modify native ecosystems by reducing biodiversity and producing a severe impact on ecosystem services. The leguminous tree Acacia melanoxylon is currently invading native agroforestry systems disrupting the normal ecosystem functioning in NW Iberian Peninsula. It is necessary to recover the invaded agroforestry habitats for establishing appropriate management strategies to control the spread of this species. Here, we evaluated different control methods consisted of (i) cutting the tree, (ii) cutting and applying herbicide (Triclopyr 1%, immediately after cutting) on the cut-stump and (iii) debarking, combined all of them with or without removing the litter. We assessed the sprouting, diameter increment and performance of acacia trees by visual-spot checks during eight months after the application of the treatments. Our results showed that cut-stump plus herbicide prevents sprouting and debarking produced chlorosis and defoliation. Both treatments were very effective and caused irreversible damages to the trees. Litter removal reduced the diameter increment of cut acacia trees but not favoured the recovering of native plant species during the study. Overall, we suggest the application of cut-stump plus herbicide and debarking as useful and more eco-friendly methods to control the invasive A. melanoxylon, which may help stakeholders to define effective management strategies for reducing the spread of this species.