More than a Chore: The Pleasures of Weed Management in High Amenity Rural Landscapes

Authors: Nick Gill*, University of Wollongong, Natalia Adan, University of Wollongong
Topics: Environment, Rural Geography, Natural Resources
Keywords: invasive plants; weeds; amenity rural land; natural resource management; environmental knowledge; stewardship
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM
Room: Bayside B, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Weed management by rural landowners is conventionally seen as a chore, as task that must be undertaken for reasons that include legal obligations, conforming to social norms, keeping neighbours happy, or meeting higher order property management goals. At best it may be a means to an end. Previous research has framed weed management as a burden; a factor in selling land, an unexpected obstacle to land use goals among newer landowners, an extra cost for graziers. Moreover, divergent weed management effort represents a source of neighbourly friction, and can be a key, and negative, point of distinction between different types of landholders. An alternative is to consider weed management in terms the processes of learning, struggle, care, and transition that owning and managing land embodies. This framing of weeds will be considered in terms of weed management by amenity or lifestyle-oriented rural land owners. Interviews and property walks with lifestylers in southern New South Wales suggest that weed management offers certain pleasures or benefits. Weeding is the means by which they explore, learn about, and (sometimes literally) uncover their land. This process embodies and cements relations of care and potentially the knowledge and experience for managing landscapes that have been formed by almost two centuries of settlement, clearing, farming, effective abandonment, (often) weedy forest regrowth, and lifestyle ‘resettlement’. More than just a chore or a means to higher land use goals, weed management is itself an activity that embodies and generates a range of positive, constructive, and normatively desirable outcomes.

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