Invasive species are Australia’s number-one extinction threat

By Andy Sheppard and Linda Broadhurst. Originally published on The Conversation.

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Barking Owls are one of Australia’s 1,770 threatened or endangered species. Navin/FlickrCC BY-SA

This week many people across the world stopped and stared as extreme headlines announced that one eighth of the world’s species – more than a million – are threatened with extinction.

According to the UN report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) which brought this situation to public attention, this startling number is a consequence of five direct causes: changes in land and sea use; direct exploitation of organisms; climate change; pollution; and invasion of alien species.

It’s the last, invasive species, that threatens Australian animals and plants more than any other single factor.
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Collaborative writeshop produces pest management decision guides for invasive species in Pakistan

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Invasive alien species (IAS) have devastating impacts on native biota, causing the decline or even extinction of native species, negatively affecting ecosystems. Invasive plants, animals, insects and microorganisms enter and establish in environments outside of their natural habitat. They reproduce rapidly, out-compete native species for food, water and space, and are one of the main causes of global biodiversity loss. Species can be introduced deliberately, through for example, fish farming, pet trade, horticulture, bio-control or unintentionally, through such means as land and water transportation, travel, and scientific research.

CABI, under its Action on Invasives programme, is working to manage the already existing and potential invasive species in Pakistan. Pest Management Decision Guides (PMDGs), through the Plantwise Knowledge Bank are practical, step-by-step tools for plant doctors and extension agents to give advice following the principles of integrated pest management (IPM).

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In the frame: fighting the scourge of parthenium weed in Pakistan

The CABI Blog

Parthenium in Pakistan CABI scientists get to grips with the ‘superior weed’ Parthenium which in India costs around USD 6.7 billion per annum to clear from pastoral land.

CABI has recently shared its expertise in a new parthenium evidence note which highlights a list of recommendations to fight the highly-invasive weed can cause severe allergic reactions in humans and livestock, may harbour malaria-carrying mosquitoes, displace native plant species and reduce pasture carrying capacities by as much as 80% to 90%.

In this picture special, we commissioned photographer Asim Hafeez to capture CABI scientists in the field as part of research which is investigating whether or not the parthenium leaf beetle (Zygogramma bicolorata) can act as an effective biological control for parthenium which is threatening food security and livelihoods in Pakistan.

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CABI publishes recommendations to fight scourge of parthenium weed in Central West Asia

Parthenium in Pakistan

CABI has published a new evidence note highlighting a list of recommendations to fight the highly-invasive parthenium weed which can have significant impacts on human health, the environment, livestock production and health and crop yields.

The report Parthenium: Impacts and coping strategies in Central West Asia, states that the aggressively-spreading weed, now classified as a ‘superior weed,’ is extremely prolific being capable of producing up to 30,000 seeds per plant – a key factor in its global spread to 48 countries including India and Pakistan.

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New study reveals the massive ecological and economic impacts of woody weed invasion in Ethiopia

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A Prosopis clearing along the Awash river

CABI scientists have revealed the massive ecological and economic impacts that the invasive alien tree Prosopis juliflora has had across the Afar Region of north eastern Ethiopia.

Dr Urs Schaffner, who is supervising lead author Mr Hailu Shiferaw for his PhD studies, contributed to the Science of The Total Environment published research which shows that the devastating Prosopis was a major reason for losses in annual ecosystem service values in Afar Region estimated at US $602 million in just 31 years.

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Photo focus on fighting invasive plants on Socotra Natural World Heritage site

The CABI Blog

DSCN0081 Bushera Ahmed Abdulla is able to identify and remove tiny prosopis seedlings before the invasive plant can take root.

In this photo special we turn the spotlight on members of the community in the Socotra Archipelago, Yemen – including Bushera Ahmed Abdulla pictured above – who are working together with invasive species experts from CABI to help rid the region of devastating Invasive Alien Species (IAS) including common pest pear Opuntia stricta and prosopis.

Dr Arne Witt, CABI’s Coordinator: Invasive Species, is providing guidance to the local UNEP/GEF team and in extension to the Environmental Protection Authority (Socotra branch), the Socotra Office for Agriculture, the Hadiboh District and the Socotra Governorate, in the implementation of a cactus eradication programme on the continental island group – designated a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site in 2008.

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