Invasive species experts from CABI have been working in partnership with a range of international organisations, including more than 200 members of a local community and a musical band, to help get rid of the common pest pear Opuntia stricta from the Socotra Archipelago, Yemen.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s the group of closely-related woody plant species and hybrids known as Prosopis were seen as a ‘saviour’ for millions of pastoralists and agro-pastoralists in East Africa whose very livelihoods were threatened by the degradation of dryland ecosystems spurred on by overgrazing, and by deforestation and a shortage of firewood.
Called the “White Forest” by native populations, the Caatinga ecosystem covers an estimated 11% of Brazil and is spread across the states of Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, northern Minas Gerais, Maranhão Paraíba, Piau, Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe. This dry forest is home to the largest populations of Carnaúba palms in the world. It also has some of the world’s most diverse plant life and its biodiversity is critically important to maintaining the variety of animals native to the region, such as the emblematic three-banded armadillo.
Research has already shown that invasive species tend to be more tolerant to environmental stress than related non-invasive species. However, a recent study published in Biological Invasions, set out to discover whether this stress tolerance was an inherent trait or whether it was something acquired en route from their natural habitat to the new one.
Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) is a non-native annual plant that was introduced into parts of Europe during the mid-nineteenth century as an ornamental plant for parks and gardens.
This plant species was first recognised as an invasive species and a threat to ecological stability in the 1930’s. However, since then the problem has escalated and is now of international concern, due to its negative impact on ecosystem biodiversity. This is primarily due to its ability to out-compete and overcrowd native vegetation. Himalayan balsam has now naturalised in many countries, resulting in a shift in management strategies from attempting to remove the invasive plant, to limiting its territory and further spread.
It was back in the early 1990s, on my first field trip to Assam in North-east India, with invasion ecologist Dr. Sean T. Murphy, when I first encountered mikania growing as an invasive weed. Until then, I had only seen this vine in its Central and South American native range, where locating a population of the plant could sometimes take all day.
The town of Livingstone, in the Southern Province of Zambia is world renowned for its magnificent views of the Victoria Falls. Annually, thousands of visitors flock this town to awe at one of the seven natural wonders of the world. A few kilometres away from this picturesque view lies Kazungula, a small border town between Zambia and Botswana, on the north bank of the Zambezi River. This area is lucky to have plenty of rain, and the residual moisture that remains in the soil enables farmers to plant a second crop of maize, referred to locally as “winter maize”. What would seemingly be a blessing has, however, become a quandary for the thousands of maize growers in Kazungula. The invasion of fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperdainto this area has conspired against the farmers to ensure they do not exploit this natural resource to its fullest benefit. First reported by Zambia to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in early 2017, fall armyworm is present in all ten of Zambia’s provinces and continues to rampage the country unabatedly.