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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment...

Invasive Species

Invasive Species

Invasive species, such as non-native weeds, animals and microorganisms are a major issue. They are one of the main causes of biodiversity and economic loss and are impacting on human health and livelihoods. These problematic species affect all types of ecosystems and are a global problem.

Prevention and management

Controlling invasive species can be problematic as chemical and mechanical management options are often ineffective in the long term, impractical, prohibitively costly or even illegal in many cases. 

Prevention is more cost effective and easier than control. Effective prevention and management requires international cooperation and action. National governments can limit the movement of invasive species across borders through proper quarantine regulation, inspection and by ensuring food supply chains follow appropriate sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

Useful links:

Providing free access to up-to-date datasheets, records and information, CABI curates and manages the Invasive Species Compendium. This database is a comprehensive resource for those working in the field of invasive species management from identification, economic assessment and management of invasive species around the world.

CABI's invasives blog provides you with stories about our research and debates on topical issues in the field of invasive species from CABI's scientists from around the world.

Azolla ( is one of the most invasive plants in the UK today. CABI rears and supplies weevils that control and are made available to those managing water bodies including land owners, English Nature, British Waterways and the Environment agency.

The Japanese Knotweed Alliance website gives you information about our project in Great Britain and the release of the psyllid, Aphalara itadori to help stop the spread of Japanese knotweed.

Our Himalayan balsam website provides information about this problematic weed and our search for a biocontrol agent. 

We have been working on invasive species for over 100 years, and we now develop workable approaches to tackle major invasive species threats. We research and implement biological control programmes to deal with problematic invasive species including invasive plants, animals and microorganisms which cause adverse detrimental effects where they are introduced. We also study the impact of invasive species on the habitats they invade, advise on invasive species policy and produce books and tools for environmental managers, researchers and farmers.

Our invasive species projects
We deliver a range of research and development projects that are solving major invasive species problems around the world. Our success delivers benefits now and into the future. Examples of our biocontrol successes include the rubber vine weed in Australia. This project used a rust fungus that CABI's scientists discovered and assessed to control the weed and is on its way to restoring 40,000km2 of native bush in Queensland.

Resources and news
 filming in the farming community of Gilgil

CABI, together with Tmax Productions, have produced a video called the ‘Green Invasion – Destroying Livelihoods in Africa.” The short film (approx. 7mins long) details how invasive weeds are impacting on the lives of rural communities in East Africa.

The excellent footage shows the extent of weed infestations with accounts from community members on how they are destroying the natural resource base on which they depend. It is clear that invasive plants are destroying traditions, cultures and a way of life for millions of people on the continent.

However, all is not lost. The film notes that if effective management programmes are implemented, including biological control, we can make a difference to many people’s lives.

Himalayan balsam infographic thumb

New paper and infographic: Himalayan balsam and its impact on UK invertebrates

Research by CABI scientists has shown local spider, true bug and beetle abundance are negatively affected by the presence of the invsive non-native weed, Himalayan balsam.

A paper by CABI scientists details the results and discusses the implications for habitat restoration.


Hydrocotyle New paper published!

CABI scientists have published a new paper in 
Aquatic Botany detailing the effect of floating pennywort's natural enemies.

G. C. Walsh, M. Maestroa, R. ShawM. Seier, G. CortatD. Djeddour (2103) Persistence of floating pennywort patches (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides, Araliaceae) in a canal in its native temperate range: Effect of its natural enemies. Aquatic Botany  Volume 110, October 2013, Pages 78–83

Invasive alien plants book
New invasive species book out now!

This coffee-table book, by Gordon Boy and Arne Witt, provides an account of how a multi-country 'war on weeds' project has contributed to improved management of Invasive Alien Species in Africa. The book provides an account of how the major barriers to invasive plant management were largely overcome in Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia during a five–year UNEP-GEF funded project. 

More than this, the book attempts to provide information on invasive species in a format that most people, even those unfamiliar with invasive species should understand. 

The book, interspersed with exceptional photographs, provides an excellent account of how invasive plants are impacting on biodiversity and livelihoods on the African continent and elsewhere.


About CABI's invasives species work in Asia

CABI's Arne Witt talks about our on-going work with the Joint Lab China and national Governments to prevent and manage the spread of invasive species throughout Asia.

Watch  outline our Asia invasive species work


CABI responds to EU proposals to regulate Invasives

The EU has recently (September 9, 2013) drafted Regulations to protect member states against the adverse impacts of Invasive Alien Species (IAS). 

Read CABI's response to the proposals 


Weed biocontrol projects: update 2013

Defra has been funding specialist scientists at CABI to investigate the biological control of invasive, non-native aquatic and riverside weeds. The technique has the potential to play an important role in protecting aquatic and riparian habitats where chemical and mechanical control options are impractical or prove to be prohibitively expensive; and to help meet requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive.

CABI is targeting Australian swamp stonecrop (Crassula helmsii), Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) and Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides). These projects complement CABI’s on-going work on the biocontrol of Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) and Water fern (Azolla filiculoides). This document is the second in a series of annual summary notes on progress made and covers progress to the end of June 2013.


Dick Shaw's Japanese knotweed presentation from CABI Video on Vimeo.

Dick Shaw, a Principal Investigator at CABI, talks about invasive species, introduces natural control, and explains how it can be used to help control Japanese knotweed - an invasive weed.

Biological control of Himalayan balsam

Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) has rapidly become one of the UK’s most invasive weed species, colonising river banks, waste ground and damp woodlands. It successfully competes with native plant species for space, light, nutrients and pollinators, and excludes other plant growth, thereby reducing native biodiversity. As an annual, H... >>

Managing invasive species in selected forest ecosystems of Southeast Asia

Invasive alien species (IAS) are, after habitat destruction, the second biggest threat to biodiversity worldwide. Invasive alien species are significantly affecting local and global biodiversity in Southeast Asia, invading and hreatening forest habitats and the species that live in them. They are also indirectly affecting the livelihoods of mill... >>

Networking and developing a strategy for Invasive Alien Species in priority biodiversity areas in the Caribbean region

Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in the Caribbean, like other island ecosystem, are a significant threat. They can be plants, animals or microorganisms that are not native to an area, and they pose a threat to biodiversity and the sustainable livelihoods of those who depend on this biodiversity for their wellbeing. They can also have significant impact... >>

Reducing the risk of invasive forest pests and pathogens in Europe

Invasive forest pests and diseases are spread through the trade in plants. These plants provide the invaders with an ideal starting point to establish and then spread. Despite precautionary regulations and phytosanitary border inspections to prevent the introduction of potential invasive species, the number of exotic forest pests and diseases in Eu... >>

Testing the psyllid: first field studies for biological control of knotweed

Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) is one of the most damaging invasive weeds in the UK. It spreads extremely quickly, preventing native vegetation from growing, and is a problem to the construction industry as it is capable of exposing weaknesses in buildings, foundations, concrete and tarmac. Current control methods rely mainly on chemicals, a... >>

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