Mountains are one of few ecosystems little affected by plant invasions. However, the threat of invasion is likely to increase because of climate change, greater anthropogenic land use, and continuing novel introductions. Preventive management, therefore, will be crucial but can be difficult to promote when more pressing problems are unresolved and predictions are uncertain. In this essay, we use management case studies from 7 mountain regions to identify common lessons for effective preventive action. The degree of plant invasion in mountains was variable in the 7 regions as was the response to invasion, which ranged from lack of awareness by land managers of the potential impact in Chile and Kashmir to well-organized programs of prevention and containment in the United States (Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest), including prevention at low altitude. In Australia, awareness of the threat grew only after disruptive invasions. In South Africa, the economic benefits of removing alien plants are well recognized and funded in the form of employment programs. In the European Alps, there is little need for active management because no invasive species pose an immediate threat. From these case studies, we identify lessons for management of plant invasions in mountain ecosystems: (i) prevention is especially important in mountains because of their rugged terrain, where invasions can quickly become unmanageable; (ii) networks at local to global levels can assist with awareness raising and better prioritization of management actions; (iii) the economic importance of management should be identified and articulated; (iv) public acceptance of management programs will make them more effective; and (v) climate change needs to be considered. We suggest that comparisons of local case studies, such as those we have presented, have a pivotal place in the proactive solution of global change issues.
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