Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Scientist call for urgent research into "real" impacts of invasive species

Invasive species get no love. From Science Daily, via CABI: Scientists warn that unless more research is carried out to highlight the damage caused by invasive species, more livelihoods and natural ecosystems will be ruined as a consequence of their effects. Invasive alien species are those that occur outside their natural range and threaten the existence of native plants and animals. They can be plants, animals or microorganisms that are introduced intentionally for economic or agricultural purposes, or accidentally, through tourism, travel or trade, or when domestic animals become feral.

As well as drawing attention to the rising cost of invasive species on a global scale –estimated at US$1.4 trillion in damage – Global Invasive Species Program (GISP) stresses that too much emphasis has been placed on the problems faced by the agricultural sector in developed countries rather than in developing countries and on the “full range of environmental, social and economic costs.” The report also emphasises that due to the lack of knowledge and research available on the severity of individual pests and the options for best controlling them, policy makers are being left in the dark.

Dennis Rangi, Chair of GISP says: “With the increase in global trade, invasive species are gaining more and more prominence around the world. However the level of awareness amongst decision-makers, and in particular those in developing countries is still relatively low.”

He goes on to say that to enable informed policy making on the prevention, eradication and control of invasive species, it is critical that studies are expanded to show the extent of the problem and in particular the impact that these weeds, pests and diseases have on people’s lives. He says “numbers are not enough; decision makers need to know the tangible effects invasive species are having on the individual farmers and their crops.”…

…The report ”Economic Impacts of Invasive Alien Species: A Global Problem with Local Consequences" is authored by the Global Invasives Species Programme.

Photo of kudzu, the invasive plant that engulfs the southern U.S., by Jan Kronzell

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