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.
Alien species are plant, animal, insect and other species that have been introduced outside of their natural habitats. They have become one of the two or three major drivers behind the current extinction crisis.
Today, one in four mammals is on the verge of extinction. Of the 44,838 species catalogued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 38 percent are on their way out. Currently, one species goes extinct every three hours.
And at least 40 percent of all animal extinctions, for which the cause is known, are the result of invasive species.
For complete story see BIODIVERSITY: Alien Species Eroding Ecosystems and Livelihoods.