Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

The potential influence of commercial plant nurseries in shaping the urban forest in South Africa.

Abstract

A substantial portion of urban green infrastructure is under private tenure in residents' and business/corporate gardens. Therefore, the ways that urban residents manage their gardens can influence the type, quantity and quality of ecosystem services and disservices in urban areas. Plant nurseries are a major source of trees for urban residents, and so the types of trees and species that nurseries stock influence the composition of private gardens. Consequently, this study aimed to examine the roles that plant nurseries play in shaping the urban forest in South Africa. To do so, an online and direct questionnaire was used to gather data from 30 nurseries across 19 urban centres in South Africa. The main questions included species selection criteria, customer tree inquiries, best-selling tree species, attitudes towards increasing urban tree cover and diversity and whether they think climate change will affect the selection of species to stock. The results show that there is a strong preference for indigenous trees, which were also most commonly listed as best-sellers. Non-native species that were commonly sold were ones that provided provisioning services, particularly edible fruits. Drought tolerance influenced selection criteria and customer demand. Vachellia spp. and Olea europaea were commonly inquired about and most commonly listed amongst the best-sellers. Nursery owners valued the importance of increasing tree cover and diversity in urban areas, listing many perceived benefits for doing so. We conclude that there is a clear preference for indigenous tree species by customers and nursery owners, which in time could increase the proportion and cover of native species.