Perspectives on the 'Alien' versus 'Native' Species Debate: A Critique of Concepts, Language and Practice

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    199 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    The classification of species as either 'native' or 'alien' is one of the organizing principles of conservation, but the validity of this dualism has increasingly been questioned, sparking debates which raise quintessentially geographical questions about place, space, nature and humanity-nature interactions. This discussion reviews the key criticisms of the native/alien construct, including its spatiotemporally arbitrary character, its disturbingly xenophobic associations, the logical problems of attributing native or alien status to our own species, and the ethical disjunction between the promotion of a multicultural human society and the persecution of 'foreign' species. Given that the native/alien polarity is a subset of the discredited nature/culture duality, its conceptual foundations seem irredeemably fractured. An alternative framework based on a 'damage criterion' rather than putative biogeographical origins is advocated.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)427-446
    Number of pages20
    JournalProgress in Human Geography
    Volume31
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007

    Keywords

    • alien species
    • biogeography
    • conservation policy
    • native species
    • WILDING NORTH-AMERICA
    • ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS
    • SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION
    • CLIMATE-CHANGE
    • GEOGRAPHY
    • CONSERVATION
    • BIODIVERSITY
    • INVASION
    • ECOLOGY
    • BRITAIN

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