Listed as among the Top 100 of the world’s worst invasive species, the coypu (also known as nutria) can cause severe damage to the environment in countries where it is an introduced species. Largely introduced as stock for fur farms and for private ownership, it has spread from its native range in South America to North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. Coypu can be found near rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and brackish marsh in coastal areas.
The Fall Armyworm (FAW), Spodoptera frugiperda has emerged as a serious threat to food security for millions of smallholder producers in Africa due to its rapid spread across the continent and extensive damage to staple cereals. At the last count, at least 28 countries were reported to be affected by the pest in Africa.
Following on from an IUCN call for greater action on addressing invasive species in order to protect biodiversity – the Honolulu challenge, presented at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress – the latest IUCN brief presses home the links between invasive species and climate change.
Climate change facilitates the spread and establishment of many alien species and creates new opportunities for them to become invasive. Climate change also reduces the resilience of habitats to biological invasions However, the inverse is also true: invasive species reduce the resilience of natural habitats, agricultural systems and urban areas to climate change.
CABI scientists have today raised concerns that an attack on the world’s banana production is worse than first feared, with a perfect storm of three pests having the potential to decimate around $35 billion worth of crops.
Biosecurity experts at CABI believe the effects of the fungus known as Panama disease tropical race 4 (TR4), together with the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) and the Banana Skipper butterfly (Erionota spp), could destroy banana plantations across Asia, Africa and Latin America. There are currently no cultivars resistant to these three threats.
Written by Dr Urs Schaffner, head of the Ecosystem Management section at CABI Europe-Switzerland.
Over the last few years, biological invasions have become a regular topic in the news. Today the general public is probably better informed about the negative environmental and economic impacts alien invasive species can cause than ever before. However, concern about invasive species and the search for methods to sustainably manage them has a much longer history, dating back to the 19th century.
A new report from the IUCN looks at conservation prospects, threats, protection and management of natural World Heritage sites. The IUCN World Heritage Outlook 2 summarises the key trends in the state of conservation of natural World Heritage sites, the threats and pressures they are facing, and the effectiveness of their protection and management. The top three current threats are all areas in which CABI works, with invasive species, climate change and tourism impacts, in that order, being assessed as the most significant threats to natural World Heritage.