Towards a holistic understanding of non-native tree impacts on ecosystem services: A review of Acacia, Eucalyptus and Pinus in Africa

Jasmine J. Wells, Lindsay C. Stringer, Anna J. Woodhead, Elizabeth M. Wandrag*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Fast-growing, stress-tolerating tree species belonging to the genera Acacia, Eucalyptus and Pinus have historically been introduced to many tropical and sub-tropical regions to support various economic and environment-regulating functions. While these non-native tree (NNT) species are often highly useful, many are simultaneously invasive, generating negative environmental impacts. Current knowledge regarding the impacts of these NNTs on the ecosystem services (ES) that affect human well-being is largely informed by South African research, which inhibits a broader understanding of the contributions of these trees to those services. Acacia, Eucalyptus and Pinus have been widely introduced globally, yet very little is known about their contribution to ES in many locations. Here, we aimed to summarise the evidence for Acacia, Eucalyptus and Pinus as generating benefits and harm to ES, focusing on sub-Saharan Africa outside of South Africa. We conducted a literature search using the ISI Web of Science, which yielded 125 relevant publications. Although the three genera were reported to affect key ES in sub-Saharan Africa, the data were limited in geographic scope, with a strong bias towards East Africa as well as biases towards certain species and ecosystem service. The benefits of these NNTs relative to their costs are context dependent and may not reflect their actual impacts on ES in sub-Saharan Africa. Our review highlights the need for more systematic research from a broader perspective to manage potential conflicts and guide better management prioritisation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101511
Number of pages10
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date23 Jan 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
AJW is funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Centre—the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity (Award RC-2018-021). LCS and EMW acknowledge support from a Leverhulme Trust Research Centre—the Leverhulme Centre for Anthropocene Biodiversity.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023


  • Ecosystem disservices
  • Environmental impacts
  • Geographic bias
  • Invasive species
  • Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
  • Nature's contributions to people
  • Taxonomic bias

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