UK

Major international report on invasive species to be published

North American grey squirrels are an invasive species that have pushed the once ubiquitous native red squirrel to the fringes of the British Isles Grey (Peter Byrne/PA)
North American grey squirrels are an invasive species that have pushed the once ubiquitous native red squirrel to the fringes of the British Isles Grey (Peter Byrne/PA)

A major report on how invasive alien species threaten native wildlife will be published on Monday which aims to help policy-makers prevent the decline of nature worldwide.

Invasive species are one of five main drivers of biodiversity loss, alongside changes in land and sea use, direct exploitation, climate change and pollution.

The recent Kunming-Montreal treaty, with its target of protecting 30% of the planet’s land and sea by 2030, said governments should “eliminate, minimise, reduce and or mitigate” non-native plants and animals.

Despite being recognised as a major threat, the specific impacts of invasive species are poorly understood, the researchers said.

The report will look at the different types of alien species and how they affect ecosystems, the extent to which they threaten food, human health and livelihoods, how they spread between and within countries, as well as how effective control measures are on international and local scales.

Options for policies on how to prevent, eradicate and control invasive species will also be offered.

The report is four years in the making at a cost of 1.5 million dollars (£1.2 million) and put together by 86 experts from 49 countries.

It draws on more than 13,000 references to bring together the current expertise on invasive species, using scientific articles, government reports and indigenous and local knowledge.

It will be published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), known as the IPCC of biodiversity.

Professor Helen Roy, of the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and co-chairwoman of the report, said: “The rapidly growing threat that invasive alien species pose to biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and human wellbeing is generally poorly understood.

“This authoritative report will make a major contribution to filling critical knowledge gaps, supporting decision-makers and raising public awareness to underpin action to mitigate the impacts of invasive alien species.”

The Assessment Report On Invasive Alien Species And Their Control will be published at 1pm BST on Monday after being approved at the IBPES plenary in Bonn, Germany, which represents more than 140 governments.

It is intended to provide policy-makers with the best available scientific evidence on the subject while highlighting the various ways invasive species can be controlled.

IPBES is hosted by the German government on the UN campus in Bonn. Several thousand scientists, nominated by their governments or organisations, volunteer to provide the organisation with evidence.

Previous reports have covered the sustainable use of wild species, a global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystems, land degradation and restoration and pollination.