GENERICO.ruScienceDamage from the spread of alien species of flora and fauna was estimated at billions of dollars

Damage from the spread of alien species of flora and fauna was estimated at billions of dollars

Dangerous mosquitoes, lionfish and giant snails are 'occupying' new regions

Invasive species of flora and fauna cost the world hundreds of billions of dollars annually and cause environmental havoc, according to a UN report global scope.

Dangerous mosquitoes, lionfish and giant snails are 'occupying' all new regions Eichornia or “water hyacinth”< /span>

Invasive species cost the world at least $423 billion annually as they drive plant and animal extinctions , threaten food security and exacerbate environmental disasters around the world, says a major new report sponsored by the United Nations.

As noted by CNN, human activity – often as a result of travel or global trade – leads to the spread of animals, plants and other organisms to new regions at an “unprecedented rate”: according to leading scientists, 200 new alien species are recorded annually.

Of the 37,000 alien species known to have been introduced worldwide, 3,500 are considered harmful and pose a “serious global threat”, destroying crops, destroying native species, polluting waterways, spreading disease and laying the foundation for devastating natural disasters.

Scholars say the global economic cost is enormous, at least quadrupling every decade since 1970.

This figure is a “huge, colossal underestimate… this is the tip of the iceberg,” said environmentalist Helen Roy, co-author of the UN Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) report.

Without intervention to prevent their spread and impact, scientists say the total number of invasive species worldwide in 2050 will be a third higher than in 2005, according to CNN.

“We know that the situation remains unchanged. We know climate change is getting worse, we know land use and marine change is getting worse, and so we expect the threat from invasive alien species to increase as well,” says Helen Roy.

Alien species are plants, animals or other organisms that have been moved by human activity to a new region or locality, CNN explains. An alien species becomes invasive when it establishes itself in this new area and has a negative impact on local biodiversity and ecosystems, including the way people live.

Numerous examples include water hyacinths littering lakes and rivers in Africa, the lionfish affecting local fisheries in the Caribbean, and the giant African land snail taking over villages on Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.

Meanwhile, browns tree snakes have wiped out entire bird populations on the Pacific island of Guam, and the rapidly spreading zebra mussel has colonized the Great Lakes of North America. Elsewhere, mosquitoes are spreading diseases such as dengue, Zika, malaria, and West Nile virus to new regions.

“We must not lose sight of the magnitude of the impact of some alien invasive species,” said Peter Stoett, co-author of the report and Dean of the Department of Social Sciences and Humanities at Ontario Technical University.

Distribution of invasive species across countries and continents is a major cause of biodiversity loss – deterioration of the complex web of ecosystems “on which humanity depends”, according to a report that links invasive species to 60% of recorded global extinctions.

Once an invasive species takes over, the consequences can be catastrophic.

Dried non-native grasses and shrubs in Hawaii contributed to last month's devastating Maui wildfire, one of the deadliest in modern US history – gives an example of a CNN.

“It would be an extremely costly mistake to treat biological invasions as just someone else's problem,” said Anibal Pouchard, co-author of the report and a professor at the Chilean Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity. – While the specific species that cause damage vary from place to place, these are risks and problems with global roots, but very local consequences, faced by people in every country, from all walks of life and in every community – even Antarctica is being affected”.

Along with invasive species, other key drivers of biodiversity loss include destruction of terrestrial and marine habitats, exploitation of organisms, climate change and environmental pollution.

The climate crisis will only exacerbate the threat of invasive species, becoming the main reason for the spread of these species and their establishment in new regions, the report says.

In addition to causing and spreading wildfires, flammable invasive plants, climate change allows invasive species move north – even to remote areas such as highlands, deserts and frozen tundra.

But there is hope. Scientists are optimistic that humanity will be able to stop the march of invasive species. What is needed first and foremost is: “Prevention, prevention, prevention, especially when it comes to marine systems,” says Peter Stoett.

According to the report, preventing the introduction of new species in new regions is the best a way to deal with the threats posed by invasive species. This includes strict import controls and early warning systems to detect and respond to species before they can establish themselves.

“One of the most important findings of the report is that the ambitious progress against invasive alien species is achievable, stresses Stoett. – What is needed is an integrated, context-specific approach, between and within countries, and across the various sectors involved in biosecurity, including trade and transport; human and plant health; economic development and more. This will bring far-reaching benefits to nature and people”.


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