Invasive alien species should not be used in restoring degraded landscapes as their costs outweigh their benefits, experts say.
Invasive alien species, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity, are plants, animals and other organisms that are non-native to an ecosystem, and may adversely affect human health and the environment, including decline or elimination of native species.
By Giuseppe Mazza and Elena Tricarico, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy
Mosquitoes are often the first species we think of when it comes to human health
Invasive species are becoming a popular topic in newspapers: when articles appear, they mainly report the damages invasive species can cause to our ecosystems (e.g. reduction or disappearance of native species as well as habitat modification) or to our economic activities: fishing or boating can be halted by mats of the South American water hyacinth, several insects can affect our agricultural production or new diseases can be transmitted to reared species. However, these species can also heavily affect human health and wellbeing.
One in four people in Europe suffer from hay fever, affecting the quality of life of millions. The average cost of hay fever related diseases amounts to around €600 per patient per year from treatment costs and lost time working.
One of the worst offending invasive plants for hay fever sufferers is the North American common ragweed Ambrosia artemisiifolia.
Red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii), often known as the Louisiana crawfish are staple part of Cajun cuisine. However, new research published in Conservation Biology has found that the highly invasive crayfish allows mosquitoes to thrive in waterways, therefore making it more likely to increase the risk of mosquito-borne diseases. Continue reading →
Invasive alien plants contribute to land degradation by forming vast unproductive monocultures. These invasions have a negative impact on biodiversity, water resources, crop and pasture production, human and animal health, and as such undermine Africa’s ability to achieve its Sustainable Development Goals. Landscapes degraded as a result of unsustainable land-use practices are also more likely to be invaded by invasive plant species, making any attempts at restoration considerably more difficult. As such it is imperative that invasive species management forms an integral part of any attempt at landscape restoration. By actively removing invasive species, followed by restoration, livelihood outcomes will be enhanced across the continent.
Invasive apple snails, formerly known as Golden Apple Snails (GAS), are an invasive species that pose a threat to crops, ecosystems and even humans. These natives of South America have spread to many other parts of the world, through both deliberate and accidental introductions. Called apple snails because they can grow to the size of an apple or a tennis ball, these molluscs can wreak havoc on both agriculture and the environment, and can also carry diseases that infect humans. Invasive apple snails have been listed among the world’s 100 most invasive species by IUCN/GISD. Belonging to the genus Pomacea, there are several species of apple snail that have become invasive. In Southeast Asia, the most important of these pest species are P. canaliculata and P. maculata (formerly known as P. insularum).
PEAT, CABI and ICRISAT launch the first live tracking tool for Fall Armyworm (FAW) in India.
The Fall Armyworm is a very invasive pest which is highly destructive to more than 80 plant species. The pest is native to America and has conquered the African continent in 2016. Since then, it has cost economies billions of dollars in crop losses and caused millions of farmers and their families destitution and hunger.