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Invasive Species

Invasive species are organisms (usually transported by humans) which successfully establish themselves in, and then overcome, otherwise intact, pre-existing native ecosystems. Invasive species constitute a global-scale problem affecting inter alia health, agricultural potential, and biodiversity. Increasing global trade and changing land use patterns may aggravate this problem in the coming years. Pest prevention and control have been on-going for many decades but many countries still lack the expertise or have limited access to technology to overcome this problem. The control of invasive species can be difficult, if not impossible, making prevention particularly important. The invasion of alien species continues to cause biodiversity loss and can have negative economic impacts. Despite the fact that a considerable amount of information now exists on invasive species, that information is not easily accessible.
Eradication, control, mitigation of their impacts combined with legislation and guidelines at national, regional and international levels are some of the ways that the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is addressing the issue of Invasive species. Paragraph h of Article 8 (In-situ conservation) of the Convention notes that "Each Contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate, ….prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species;…". The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of CBD identified alien species that threaten ecosystems as a priority issue for discussion both at its sixth meeting and for the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the convention. In thematic national reports sent to SBSTTA, countries indicated that while the effect of invasive alien species was a very important issues for biodiversity management, most countries ability to address the issue was extremely limited and national capacity-building and facilitation of collaborative efforts were therefore essential.

SBSTTA has noted that there is an urgent need to address the impact of invasive alien species. It has also noted that while different multilateral processes address specific aspects of invasive species there are gaps, overlaps and inconsistencies in existing instruments at all levels.

The Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) is part of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of IUCN. The ISSG is a global group of 146 scientific and policy experts on invasive species from 41 countries. ISSG provides advice on threats from invasive species and control or eradication methods to IUCN members, conservation practitioners, and policy-makers. The group's activities focus primarily on invasive species that cause biodiversity loss, with particular attention to those that threaten oceanic islands. It aims to reduce threats to natural ecosystems and the native species they contain by increasing awareness of invasions and of ways to prevent control or eradicate them.

The Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) was established in 1997 to develop the knowledge base; the scientific, technical, economical and institutional tools; and a global strategy to deal with invasive species, thus helping to maintain biological diversity. The programme is coordinated by SCOPE (Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment), in conjunction with IUCN (World Conservation Union), CAB-I (Commonwealth Bureau of Agriculture - International) and UNEP. GISP also contributes to DIVERSITAS, an international partnership on biodiversity science and is linked to the action of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

GISP hopes to assemble the best information and approaches for prevention and management, to disseminate them in the form of databases, manuals and capacity-building training programs to governments and communities, and to lay the groundwork for new tools in science, information management, education, and policy that must be developed through collaborative international action. Further, the programme hopes to assist countries to meet the obligations of Article 8h of the Convention on Biological Diversity as described above.

The GISP Global Clearing House for invasive species will provide information on scientific, technical and other aspects of invasive species and support to scientific and technical co-operation on related issues. GISP hopes to foster co-operation and co-ordination between international institutions involved in work on invasive species.

There may be other partners in Earthwatch that could contribute information to this effort. The Working Party members may wish to discuss data collection, response to the impact of invasive species, what other UN partners should be involved in related work, and whether any strategic planning or coordination of efforts are necessary on this issue.


Earthwatch Working Party 7 - EWWP7/3


Emerging Issues


UNEP/DEWA/Earthwatch 1996-2002