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Politicising plants: Dwelling and invasive alien species in domestic gardens in Norway

Marte Qvenild, Gunhild Setten, Margrete Skår
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Journal Article
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The article investigates how domestic gardeners in Oppland County, Norway, engage with plants and with ‘invasive alien species’ as defined by the national environmental authorities. The spread of invasive alien plants from domestic gardens may represent a threat to native biodiversity, and environmental authorities currently face a challenge in communicating this risk to domestic gardeners operating within their relatively autonomous garden spaces. The authors demonstrate how biodiversity politics and human–plant relationships meet, or fail to meet, in domestic gardens. Empirically, they draw on talking-whilst-walking interviews held with selected domestic gardeners, and they were inspired by Ingold’s notion of dwelling in combination with more-than-human geography, which enabled them to analyse how, through embodied practices, domestic gardeners relate to plants as well as to the terms developed within natural science (i.e. alienness, nativeness, and invasiveness). The main finding is that gardeners in Oppland are not concerned about the geographical origin of garden plants, but rather focus on the plants’ attributes, such as invasiveness and adaptability to a harsh climate. Insights into how the terminology used by environmental authorities corresponds to domestic gardeners’ interaction with garden plants may provide input into the improvement of communication strategies directed towards domestic gardeners regarding invasive alien species issues. Keywords:

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