Saturday, October 23, 2010

Europe should pay more attention to invasive species

Deutsche Welle: As governments meet in Nagoya, Japan, to discuss ways to halt the declining variety of the world's plants and animals, some German scientists are calling for more action against one of the threats to biodiversity in particular - invasive alien species. These are plants and animals brought to new habitats either on purpose or as unseen stowaways. When these alien arrivals come into contact with new ecosystems, the results can be devastating.

Carsten Nowak from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Germany is worried that globalization may be leading to a gradual homogenization of species across the continents. "If we want to maintain regional differences, we have to somehow stop (current rates of) species invasions," he told Deutsche Welle.

Europe now has 10,000 alien species. Some 10 percent of these are considered invasive, meaning that when they arrive, they tend to eradicate native plants and animals. The European Union acknowledges that this is a problem for the bloc: These invaders are costing European economies 12 billion euros every year in agricultural losses and health care costs, as well as impoverishing the diversity of local ecosystems.

However, "there is no consistent horizontal coordination at EU level" for tackling this problem, a spokesperson for the EU's environment policy chief told Deutsche Welle….

Japanese knotweed is considered an invasive in Europe, shot by KENPEI, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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