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Climate Change and Invasive Species - Threats to Human Existence

22/10/2010 14:16

The outcome of a study carried out by the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP), shows that invasive species, such as livestock diseases, and climate change, when combined, not only have devastating impacts on the environment, but cost countries across the world, about 10 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product.

 

 

The report of the study, which was carried out with supports from  CABI (a not-for-profit science-based development and information organization, established by a United Nations treaty level agreement between 40 countries who wanted to “promote the advancement of agriculture and allied sciences through the provision of information, scientific and related services on a world-wide basis”), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN - an international body that works on biodiversity, climate change, energy, human livelihoods and greening the world economy by supporting scientific research, managing field projects all over the world, and bringing governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice), the World Bank and TNC, is titled: Invasive Species, Climate Change and Ecosystem-Based Adaptation: Addressing Multiple Drivers of Global Change.

 

 

“The dangers posed by this ‘deadly duo’ cannot be overestimated,” said Sarah Simons, Executive Director, GISP. “Each driver poses an enormous threat to biodiversity and human livelihoods but now, evidence is rapidly emerging which shows that climate change is compounding the already devastating effects of invasive species, resulting in a downward spiral with increasingly dire consequences.”

 

Estimated damage from invasive species worldwide totals more than US $1.4 trillion annually – five per cent of the global economy. Estimates of economic losses from global climate change are also about 5% of annual GDP. 

 

“Climate change is already receiving significant attention in the research and policy communities,” said Bill Jackson, Deputy Director General, IUCN, “But this report shows the need to dig deeper on where climate change interacts with invasive species. The financial costs of not responding should be enough to encourage policy makers to take urgent action.”

 

Examples of the spread of invasive species being linked to climate change include the livestock disease, bluetongue, which in 2007 alone cost in excess of US $200 million;  Miconia calvescens, an invasive tree species which increases the risk of landslides when coupled with high rainfall; and the fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), thought to have contributed to the massive extinction of primarily tropical frog species.

 

“Fortunately, we already know many of the actions necessary for offsetting the threat of invasive species to key ecosystem services, such as erosion control and freshwater availability,” said Stas Burgiel, GISP’s Policy Director and lead author of the report. “Such ecosystem-based approaches are not simply about saving ecosystems, but rather about using ecosystems to help ‘save’ people and the resources on which we depend.”

 

 

For the full report- http://www.iucn.org/dbtw-wpd/edocs/2010-054.pdf

 

For more information- www.iucn.org 

 

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