During the last decades, invasive alien species have invaded every continent and every year the number of new arrivals goes up. There are numerous factors contributing to uncontrolled spread of invasive plant species in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which can negatively effect on biodiversity, human health and economy, and also have negative impact on cultural services. Worldwide invaders, such as Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle, Reynoutria japonica Houtt, Robinia pseudoacacia L., Helianthus tuberosus L., Ambrosia artemisiifolia L., have already occupied most parts of Bosnia and Herzegovina that are environmentally suitable for these species, which are usually environments altered by human activities. The common invasive species present in Bosnia and Herzegovina are progressively reducing attractiveness and devouring our cultural and historical heritage, such as memorials and architectural structures, and forgotten, neglected Yugoslavian monuments all over the country. Biological invasions threaten the world’s biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems. Aggressive invasive plants, such as Ailanthus altissima (Mill.) Swingle and Reynoutria japonica Houtt., reduce accessibility of invaded areas near cultural and historical monuments. Except decreasing the visual impact of the monuments and memorials, plant roots can cause serious economic costs by damaging historic and archaeological buildings. Inaccessibility of historical sites is a negative consequence of invasive plant species presence and they also can have negative effect on aesthetic appearance of monuments.

Association Realstage from Sarajevo contracted Center for Energy, Environment and Resources (CENER21) to undertake field survey with an aim to analyze vegetation and present invasive species near selected memorials and neglected Yugoslavian monuments in Sarajevo, Mostar, Počitelj and Bihać.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina historical monuments are designed by different renowned sculptors and architecture, such as Bogdan Bogdanović. Although monuments in Bosnia and Herzegovina have powerful visual effects, poor conditions of historical monuments and heritage sites are well known. Most of them are surrounded by uncontrolled vegetation. Usually, they are left neglected in “weedy” and invasive plants.

The Partisan Memorial Cemetery located in Mostar and designed by architect Bogdan Bogdanović was built in 1965 in honour of the Yugoslav Partisans of Mostar who were killed during World War II in Yugoslavia. Nowadays, The Partisan Memorial Cemetery has reportedly been neglected and severely vandalized. Ailanthus altissima was recorded to be most frequent invasive species in this area. A. altissima, an opportunistic invasive species, is capable of establishing itself in various conditions of habitat due to its tolerance to a wide range of ecological factors. It can survive nutrient poor soils, saline or highly compacted soils and it is resistant to heat, drought and pollution. Leaves, bark, roots and seed are containing secondary metabolite ailanthon, which inhibit growth and germination of surrounding plants. Pollution tolerance allows its growth on walls, cracks of sidewalks, road and railroad edges, abandoned lots and parks.

In Bihać, the focus of the survey was the old Jewish Cemetery. Although it is declared a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina it was found in poor condition, overgrown in “weedy” plants. A large number of tombstones were knocked down, sunk into the ground, displaced from their original location, overgrown with moss and vegetation. Invasive species Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica Houtt) is also recorded on the surface of the cemetery. It is considered an extremely invasive species. A competitive advantage is reflected in its vegetative propagation mode and rapid spread in different habitat types. IUCN has classified this plant species into 100 of the worst invasive species.

Generally, invasive species have been observed on the locations of the selected memorials and neglected Yugoslavian monuments and the surrounding area, where the only location without invasive species was Memorial Park Garavice in Bihać due to the current maintained condition of the monument. In addition to the above mentioned, field surveys included Monument Oskar Dudic in Sarajevo, Počitelj Fortress and Garavice Monument in Bihać.

Devouring Architecture is a project by Ishak Jalimam and his association Realstage, which addresses the negative effects of invasive plant species on cultural heritage sites, and specifically modernist monuments, in Bosnia & Herzegovina. The project consists of a series of workshops with scientists and artists, new media outputs and public events. The new media outputs will take the shape of photos, short films, and video art. A group of artists that work with conceptual art and animation is gathered within the involvement of young researchers that work with and have experience in the field of ecology, especially interested in invasive alien species. By combining scientific study on the irreversible effects of invasive plant species with artistic translations of the outcomes the applicant hopes to raise awareness of this issue and the irreversible consequences it could haveThe project will use the local context of the problem, but distribute it globally, therefore using our examples just to inform a larger number of people and organizations, with creative ways to distribute it and using the know-how and examples from artists abroad to make this topic more approachable mainly using out-of-the box ideas.