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Invasive plants - friends or foes? Contribution of prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) to livelihoods in Makana Municipality, Eastern Cape, South Africa


  • Sheona Shackleton
  • David Kirby
  • James Gambiza


The negative impacts of invasive alien species on the environment are well documented. However, despite the predominantly negative perceptions associated with invasive species, it is evident that a number of these plants have been part of the landscape for generations and have numerous commercial and non-market uses. Consequently, there is a need for research that considers the impact of invasive species on the livelihoods and well-being of local communities. The authors investigated the contribution that the trade in prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica), an invasive alien species, makes to the household income streams of poor trading households. The research highlights the apparent conflict of interests and trade-offs that exists between local traders, for whom the sale of the prickly pear provides a livelihood source, and the South African Government, who are actively seeking to remove the plant from the landscape.

Suggested Citation

  • Sheona Shackleton & David Kirby & James Gambiza, 2011. "Invasive plants - friends or foes? Contribution of prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica) to livelihoods in Makana Municipality, Eastern Cape, South Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(2), pages 177-193.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:28:y:2011:i:2:p:177-193
    DOI: 10.1080/0376835X.2011.570065

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    Cited by:

    1. Pienkowski, Thomas & Williams, Sophie & McLaren, Kurt & Wilson, Byron & Hockley, Neal, 2015. "Alien invasions and livelihoods: Economic benefits of invasive Australian Red Claw crayfish in Jamaica," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 112(C), pages 68-77.


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