Effective management of invading alien plants in natural and semi-natural systems is imperative if we are to prevent enormous impacts. An integrated approach involving the combined use of a range of methods is usually necessary to control invasive alien plants effectively. The various methods that are available are usually classified as: mechanical methods (felling, removing of invading alien plants, often in conjunction with burning); chemical methods (using environmentally safe herbicides); and biological control (using species-specific insects and diseases from the alien plant's country of origin). Approaches available for integrated control depend on the species under consideration (features of individual species and the number and identity of species that occur together), features of the invaded systems, the availability of resources and other factors. Mechanical and chemical control are short-term activities, whereas rigorous and disciplined follow-up and rehabilitation are necessary in the medium term. Biological control can provide effective control in the short and medium term in some cases, and it is often the only really sustainable solution in the longer term. We suggest that the biological attributes of plants represent a stable set of attributes, which enable managers to devise control approaches, but that such approaches are likely to be upset by stochastic events such as fires, floods or budget cuts. While an approach of adaptive management, based on trial, error and continual improvement is a logical way in which to progress, the advent of powerful computer simulation modelling technologies will allow managers to do hundreds of 'trial and error' runs in order to explore the consequences of certain courses of action. This should represent an improvement on the current state of affairs, and should allow for better decision-making. We present a series of simulations to illustrate this point.