Understanding the socioeconomic and environmental impacts of invasive plant species from the affected communities’ perspectives is essential to design and plan sustainable control and prevention strategies. Hence, understanding the socio-economic and environmental impacts in the infested and susceptible areas such as Bale zone is very crucial. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess socio-economic impacts of in lowlands of Bale zone, Southeastern Ethiopia. House hold survey, focus group discussion and key informant interview to understand socio-economic and environmental impacts invasive plant species were used. Statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) (v. 20) was used for data collection. The results showed that a total of 12 invasive plant species were recorded, and of which Parthenium hysterophorus, Xanthium strumarium, Argemone ochroleuca, Ceasalpinia spp, Acacia bussie, Acacia mellifera, Acacia seyal and Acacia tortolis were highly distributed in the study areas. Respondents reported that heavy infestation of invasive plant species were found on the roadsides followed by arable land. The invasive plant species has also certain economic and ecological benefits. The local communities blame the invasive plant species for their negative impacts on biodiversity, degrading ecosystems, livestock and livestock products, crops, animal and human health. The study result showed that the local community utilizes chemical, mechanical and biological methods to reduce and control the impacts even though the percent of households that were trying to control is very low. Community perception showed the invasive plants species infesting grazing lands, crop lands, road sides, frosts and settlement areas. However, much has not been done to alert the local people on the danger of environmental impacts on biodiversity, agriculture and health. The menace of the species is increasing at an alarming rate, thus control methods have to be designed to stop further spreading into Bale Mountain National Parks.
Key words: Environmental impacts, invasive alien species, socio-economic impacts, Southeast Ethiopia.
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