Philippines to host forum on biological threat of alien species invasion

June 28, 2019

THE proliferation of invasive alien species could wipe out endemic and native species of a certain country and raise countless threats to biodiversity.

This is the concern that will be discussed in the Research and Development Congress on Invasive Alien Species (IAS)” in the Asia-Pacific that will be held from July 8 to 12 at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.

The conference, which was initiated by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), the R&D arm of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), is expected to be attended by at least 200 delegates consisting  of local and foreign researchers, scientists, academics, policymakers, and guests.

During the conference, they will discuss recent IAS status, control, and management in the region as well how to raise IAS biosecurity approach within the entire stretch of the Pacific.

The conference also aims to contribute to the Aichi Biodiversity Target 9 in reducing the direct pressures of IAS on environmental sustainability.

Its goal is to help ensure that by 2020, “invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishments.”

With the introduction of alien species to new environment, the indigenous flora and fauna become vulnerable to risks.

Dr. Carmelita I. Villamor, Overall Coordinator and Chief of ERDB’s Coastal Zone and Freshwater Ecosystems Research Division (CZFERD), said: “Invasive alien species can occur in different taxonomic groups  and may pose great threats across all ecosystems.”

She added that they could also spread in ways destructive to human and the society at large.

In recent years, international instruments are being developed to monitor IAS and the most comprehensive is the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The CBD reported that since the 17th century, IAS have been contributing to massive extinction on the world’s fauna at about 40 percent.

These species continue to  trigger competition, predation, and massive transmission of pathogens which then increase the stakes for survival among native species.

Of the world’s most common invasive species is water hyacinth (Echhornia crassipes), an aquatic weed indigenous to the Amazon River Basin of South America.

Due to its rapid spread, water hyacinth has aggressively invaded tropical regions. Its thick  cover on waterways can cause blockage, oxygen depletion, and fish kills.

Another priority species is the African tulip tree (Spathodea campanulata) growing in the tropical forests of the South Pacific. The African tulip tree crowds out native species and is extremely difficult to remove as it can easily regrow from its root fragments and wind-dispersed seeds.