A landmark report published today (September 4) could provide a major step forward in tackling one of the major causes of the biodiversity crisis.
Invasive alien species – animals, plants and other organisms that are introduced into places outside their natural habitat and impact negatively on native biodiversity and ecosystem services – are one of the five major direct drivers of biodiversity loss globally.
Today’s report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an international collaboration between 86 experts in their fields, including Dr Pablo Garcia-Diaz, who was a Research Fellow at the University of Aberdeen’s School of Biological Science while contributing to the report.
According to the Assessment Report on Invasive Alien Species and their Control, more than 37,000 alien species have been introduced by many human activities to regions and biomes around the world. This conservative estimate is now rising at unprecedented rates. More than 3,500 of these are harmful invasive alien species – seriously threatening nature, nature’s contributions to people and good quality of life. Too often ignored until it is too late, invasive alien species are a significant challenge to people in all regions and in every country.
Dr Garcia-Diaz said: “It is a great honour to have been one of the contributing authors on this hugely important report. For my part, I produced an account of alien amphibians, such as newts and frogs, and alien reptiles such as turtles and snakes. We did this globally, with a more in depth look at four specific regions: the Americas, Africa, Europe and Central Asia, and Asia-Pacific.
“We wanted to understand how many alien species are there and where they are, as well as any specific trends such as increasing numbers of alien species in certain geographic areas where they might threaten biodiversity, and highlighting any knowledge gaps there might be about these alien species.”
“The undertaking involved with this report has been extraordinary. The chapter I worked on was a huge collaborative effort of more than 50 scientists from around the world contributing over the last four years.”
The report highlights that future biological invasions, invasive alien species, and their impacts, can be prevented through effective management and more integrated approaches.
Dr Garcia-Diaz added: “Hopefully, all the evidence, analyses and options laid out in the report will help key decision-makers to address the massive problem invasive species are causing to biodiversity and critical ecosystem services.”
The Invasive Alien Species Report has been prepared for a wide spectrum of decision-makers, including government and business leaders, civil society groups, indigenous peoples and local communities.