Effective control of biological invasions requires considering humans as a part of the invaded landscape.
In this study, social survey data and social-ecological modelling were used to estimate how the success of controlling invasive plant species is influenced by social factors relating to individual local landowners, such as attitudes and beliefs, social interactions and economic ability to participate in control efforts. The approach was based on allowing the diverse, adaptive behaviours of landowners to interact with the dynamics of biological invasion. The collective success of landowners' individual control efforts was measured by their capacity to decrease the density and area of invasion at landscape level. Using New Zealand's conifer invasion as a case study, it was found that social factors can determine the success of invasive species control to the extent that higher-level management strategies, such as early detection of the invasion, become irrelevant. The research showed that lack of consideration for social factors and for local landowners' social-ecological interactions can lead to suboptimal management programs and irreversible environmental changes.