Alien Species Cause Extinctions, Increase Poverty, Erode Ecosystems

Saltcedar, an invasive exotic weed, crowds out native vegetation along the Gila River in Arizona.

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, May 21 (IPS) – Continent-hopping alien species are worsening poverty and threaten the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and natural systems that underpin millions of livelihoods in developing countries, warn biodiversity experts.

“The livelihoods for 90 percent of people in Africa directly rely on natural resources such as marine coastal biodiversity,” said Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

“Around the world more than 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests for their survival,” he told IPS from Montreal.

Biodiversity is not just fuzzy animals and pretty birds. It is the diversity of life on Earth that comprises ecosystems which in turn provide vital ecosystem services including food, fibre, clean water and air.

“Biodiversity is poor countries’ most precious asset,” Djoghlaf stressed. Continue reading