So, what's the problem
Increased global trade and travel, as well as climate change, has an unfortunate side effect – the rapid spread of invasive species. Intentionally or accidentally 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. They disregard national borders and unmanaged, can be global in their impact. They undermine 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%.
Invasions are often not detected or responded to in the early stages, leading to their rapid establishment and spread. This makes control more difficult and less cost effective, and is generally due to a piecemeal and uncoordinated approach without appropriate plans and policies. Often there is inadequate collaboration between key national stakeholders (especially agriculture, trade and environment sectors), and insufficient consideration of social and gender issues at the community level.
What is this project doing?
Our overall objective 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. Ultimately this will improve the livelihoods of 50 million poor rural households who are affected by invasive species in Africa and Asia.
The programme follows the globally adopted three-tier approach of prevention, early detection, eradication/ containment and finally the control of established species followed by restoring damaged ecosystems. We are developing local, national and regional capacity to implement this approach to:
1. Strengthen links and partnerships between stakeholders to set priorities, deliver action plans, and inform and influence policy
2. Identify and validate technical solutions to prevent and control invasive species, in collaboration with national and international partners
3. Scale up implementation of validated management approaches by working and communicating with affected communities
4. Provide information, knowledge and tools for practical decision making by a wide range of users
The programme builds on the collaborative infrastructure established through CABI’s Plantwise programme which supports farmers with plant health advice and strengthens national plant health systems.
Initial focus species are Fall armyworm, Parthenium and tomato leaf miner. We have supported national planning in Ghana and Pakistan, and have produced an Evidence Note on Fall armyworm (commissioned by DFID) that has been widely referred to.
Control methods, including classical biological control for both Parthenium and Fall armyworm, are being tested and we are identifying priority pest risks species in Kenya that we can either prevent or detect. Baseline surveys of farmers’ practices, knowledge and losses have been completed.
We have also conducted major communication campaigns to promote awareness and management of Fall armyworm (Ghana, Uganda, Zambia) and Parthenium (Pakistan); reaching large numbers of people through multiple communication channels.
Our free Invasive Species Compendium is also being substantially enhanced through the programme. It will include specialised portals for high priority species, a horizon scanning tool which has been launched and we are soon releasing a pest risk analysis tool which we are training National Plant Protection Organisations on who contributed to its design.
We would soon like to expand the programme to additional countries and species in South Asia and Africa.
Our work in the news from the BBC and SciDev.
Programme Support Manager, Action on Invasives
Deputy Director Programme
Knowledge Management Programme Manager
Scientist Seed Systems
Head Risk Analysis and Invasion Ecology
Senior Scientist, Invasive Species Management
Research Scientist Arthropod Biological Control; Integrated Crop Management Advisor