During the visit to La Camargue, the guide pointed out some “invasive species”. One were a muskrat*, the other one some unnoticeable plant as well as a turtle and crayfish**. What he did not point out where the rice, the Asian reed or the Spanish buffalo (contrary to the original Camargue ones) though they are as foreign to la Camargue as the four others.
What really struck me is that all those species were qualified invasive depending on whether they were useful to humans or not. Some of them – like the rice, the reed AND the muskrat – were actually introduced by humans. The last one for their then valuable skin.
Now, the muskrat is not only qualified as invasive but furthermore as harmful. Harmful because its digging it’s dens in the dikes. Dikes built by humans to keep the Rhône from overflowing. Only that these previously regular floods were an integral part of the delta and its ecosystem. But that’s not the only change man did.
Rice is only growing in the Camargue thanks to lots of subsidies and even more pesticides; altering the landscape and the soil and huge industrial petrochemical plants are located right outside the protected conservation area.
It doesn’t leave much space to wonder which species might actually be the most invasive and harmful on earth…
* Bisamratte, rat musqué
** écrevisse, Flusskrebs