So, what's the problem
Increased global trade has an unfortunate side effect – the rapid spread of invasive species. Imported plants, insects and pathogens can all have an adverse impact on human, animal, agricultural and environmental health.
Invasive species are estimated to cost the global economy over US$1.4 trillion annually. These pests disregard national borders and unmanaged, can be global in their impact. They can undermine major investments in development, and significantly affect the livelihoods of vulnerable rural communities who depend on natural resources and ecosystem health for their survival.
Unappreciated by many, the burden of invasive species weighs particularly heavily on the poorest and most vulnerable. Throughout Southeast Asia for example, invasive species cost at least US$33 billion annually (US$55 per capita), reducing GDP by up to 5%.
Invasive species are often not recorded or new outbreaks responded to, leading to the pest rapidly establishing. Solutions do however exist. In the past, efforts have been piecemeal and uncoordinated, without the application of long-term systematic management policies. This is largely due to the lack of collaboration between key national stakeholders (especially agriculture, trade and environment sectors). They have also failed to involve local communities.
Sustainable invasive species intervention demands concerted action at local, national, regional and international levels. This will enable information flow, good communication between stakeholders, and efficient and sustainable management infrastructure in order to promote and prioritize action.
What is this project doing?
Experts at CABI can help prevent the spread of new invasive species, detect them if they cross borders and minimize their impact if they take hold. Adopting a systematic approach to tackling the worst invasive species will reduce the economic damage caused by invasive species in agriculture, the natural environment and trade.
To do this, we want to capture, collate and build peoples’ capacity to deploy known prevention and control measures which are based on internationally recognized Integrated Pest Management (IPM) protocols. These are similar to those for preventative vaccines, polio eradication and malaria control etc. We will also develop new and effective management practices for rural communities.
This takes a three-staged approach to tackle the problem: prevention, early detection and control. We will work with different professional sectors so that they can apply a coordinated response to prevent invasive species including agreed action plans for any new potential new threats. Early detection activities will implement robust surveillance and emergency action plans and a rapid response will resolve new problems.
This approach will be underpinned by a growing international network of plant clinics provided by CABI’s Plantwise programme which supports farmers with plant health advice and records any pest outbreaks. This then facilitates a rapid and efficient response.
When a new invasive species appears, or an existing one needs tackling, the programme will bring together pre-existing technologies that are environmentally sound, or deploy safe and effective biological control agents which will sustainably manage the problem long-term. Selected proven technology packages will be rapidly and comprehensively disseminated to local communities.
The programme will also invest in research and trials on biological control agents in line with the Access and Sharing Benefits of the Convention of Biological Diversity’s Nagoya protocol.
The ultimate intention is to protect and restore agricultural and natural ecosystems and resources, increase crop yields, improve health, protect trade and reduce the degradation of protected areas.
An essential element of the programme will be continual stakeholder communication to gather feedback, coordinate solution adaptations and evaluate impact.
See some recent news on our work from the BBC and on SciDev.
See www.invasive-species.org for more information on our programme and on two of the invasive species we are currently working on, Fall armyworm and Parthenium.
Deputy Director Programme
Content Manager, Compendia