It makes sense for Australia to be part of a large global effort to make it easier to
identify, assess and respond to invasive species, according to The Hon John Kerin
AM, a member of the Board of The Crawford Fund and Chair of the Interim
Advisory Committee to the Australian Weed Research Centre.
Mr Kerin will be chairing a Crawford Fund workshop on 11 March 2009 to help raise
awareness of, and encourage Australian support for, a project to build the world’s
most comprehensive encyclopaedia of invasive species – the Invasive Species
Compendium (ISC). The workshop is also being supported by the Cooperative
Research Centre for National Plant Biosecurity (CRCNPB).
Invasive species are the second greatest threat to global biodiversity next to habitat
destruction costing an estimated global US$1.5 trillion per year in environmental
and economic damage.
The Invasive Species Compendium is led by CABI (a not-for-profit, science-based
development and information organisation) and supported by an International
Development Consortium of public and private sector partners. It will be used as a
powerful knowledge resource base to address critical issues concerning the impact
of thousands of invasive species on the environment, biodiversity, agriculture,
forestry and fisheries. Currently however, there are no Australian institutions
participating in the project.
“Invasive plants and animals are major and growing threats to Australia
economically, environmentally and to our health and culture,” said Mr Kerin, a
former Federal Minister for Primary Industries.
“The animal and plant worlds act as hosts for human diseases and many weed
species provide shelter for feral animals and dangerous insects. Invasive plants are
the main threat to 45% of threatened and endangered species and eco-systems in
NSW alone,” he said.
“Over 28,000 foreign plants have been brought into Australia and over 6,000 are
now weed species.”
“It makes sense for Australia to be part of global consortia and databases from both
national and development assistance points of view.”
The ISC will cover recognition, biology, distribution, impact and management of
invasive species making it easier to identify, assess and respond to threats.
The workshop in Canberra on 11 March will review the global project, present the
benefits and commitments of participation and outline the opportunities for a
number of Australian institutions who may wish to become involved in its
development. A broad range of Australian research and development organisations
from both State and Federal government agencies will attend the workshop.
"At present, awareness of the ISC in Australia is fairly low. But the benefits of the Compendium to the country’s research community cannot be underestimated.” said Elizabeth Dodsworth, Global Director Knowledge Management, CABI.
“The ISC will bring the most extensive and authoritative compilation on thousands
of invasive species to the fingertips of the people who need it most and we are
thrilled to be able to discuss it at the Crawford Fund’s workshop,” she said.
CABI is an organisation already well-renowned for benefiting the research
community in Australia. It led the development of four compendia products: Crop
Protection, Forestry, Animal Health and Production, and Aquaculture. On
reviewing the benefits of these products in 2007, the Australian Centre for
International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) put their value in terms of time-saving
by Australian public-service staff at US$ 1.1 million per year
The ISC project is being managed in phases. Phase one was completed in 2008
with coverage of 1,000 species. Once launched in 2010, the Compendium will be
continually maintained, improved and updated to ensure that researchers have
access to the very latest and most accurate information.
For further information and to arrange interviews contact:
Cathy Reade, Public Awareness Coordinator, Crawford Fund 0413 575 934 or
Lynsey Sterrey, PR and Corporate Communications Manager, CABI on + (0) 1491 829361
Additional information on the ISC:
The ISC will cover recognition, biology, distribution, impact and management of invasive
species, on a global basis. Invasive species of all taxa will be covered, including plants,
fungi, bacteria, viruses, insects, nematodes, molluscs and vertebrates. Their impact on
natural ecosystems and on biodiversity will be considered, and also on systems managed
for agriculture, forestry, aquaculture etc. Decision-support tools will be included, e.g. for
diagnosis and risk analysis. GIS will be used to display geographic distributions. Extensive
reference materials will be available, including illustrations, library documents, bibliographic
abstracts, case studies and statistical data.
Content is derived from thousands of expert contributors, from throughout the world. The
ISC's authority derives from their expertise, from verification through peer review, and from
quality control through rigorous editing.
Other content is derived from existing compilations of knowledge on invasive species, from
organizations such as ISSG, GISP and IABIN.
Content is presented dynamically through the Compendium technology - on an advanced
web-based platform combining databases, text, images, GIS, taxonomic relationships and
decision-support tools in an interactive framework. This is designed to respond intuitively to
linkages made by the user, both within the Compendium and in relationships with other
local or remote knowledge bases.
About CABI: CABI is a not-for-profit, science-based development and information organisation with nine centres worldwide. CABI’s mission and direction is influenced by its 45 member countries that help guide the organisation's activities. These include projects and consultancy, information for development, scientific publishing and mycological services. For more information, visit www.cabi.org.
About the Crawford Fund: The ATSE Crawford Fund was established in June 1987 by The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. It was named in honour of the late Sir John Crawford and commemorates his outstanding services to international agricultural research. The Fund depends on grants and donations from governments, private companies, corporations, charitable trusts and individual Australians. It also welcomes partnerships with agencies and organisations in Australia and overseas.
The Fund promotes and supports international R&D activities in which Australian research organisations and companies are active participants. It supports the work of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). For more information, visit http://www.crawfordfund.org/