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The International Day for Biological Diversity: IAS

22 May 2009

Theme: Invasive Alien Species

[tab:What they are]

What they are and why they are a problem

Invasive alien species are plants, animals, pathogens and other organisms that are non-native to an ecosystem, and which may cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health. In particular, they impact adversely upon biodiversity, including decline or elimination of native species – through competition, predation, or transmission of pathogens – and the disruption of local ecosystems and ecosystem functions.

Invasive alien species, introduced and/or spread outside their natural habitats, have affected native biodiversity in almost every ecosystem type on earth and are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity. Since the 17th century, invasive alien species have contributed to nearly 40% of all animal extinctions for which the cause is known (CBD, 2006).

The problem continues to grow at great socio-economic, health and ecological cost around the world. Invasive alien species exacerbate poverty and threaten development through their impact on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and natural systems, which are an important basis of peoples’ livelihoods in developing countries. This damage is aggravated by climate change, pollution, habitat loss and human-induced disturbance.

Causes and impacts of invasive alien species

Globalization has resulted in greater trade, transport, travel and tourism, all of which can facilitate the introduction and spread of species that are not native to an area. If a new habitat is similar enough to a species’ native habitat, it may survive and reproduce. For a species to become invasive, it must successfully out-compete native organisms for food and habitat, spread through its new environment, increase its population and harm ecosystems in its introduced range.

Most countries are grappling with complex and costly invasive species problems. For example, the annual environmental losses caused by introduced pests in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, India and Brazil have been calculated at over US$ 100 billion (CBD, 2006). Addressing the problem of invasive alien species is urgent because the threat is growing daily, and the economic and environmental impacts are severe.

Examples of invasive alien species

* Native to the Caspian and Black Seas, Zebra mussels (Dreissena polymorpha) affect fisheries, mollusc diversity, and electric power generation in the Great Lakes in North America and Mississippi basin

* Native to the Amazon basin, water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) has invaded tropical habitats worldwide spreading to more than 50 countries on five continents. Water hyacinth blocks waterways, decimates aquatic wildlife and the livelihoods of local people and creates ideal conditions for disease and its vectors

* Native to the Indian sub-continent, the ship rat (Rattus rattus) have caused extinctions and catastrophic declines of native birds on islands and have spread throughout the world

* Deadly new disease organisms, such as avian influenza A (H5N1), attack humans and animals, in both temperate and tropical countries

[tab:CBD and IAS]

The CBD and invasive alien species

The Convention on Biological Diversity and its members (there are 191 Parties, as of October 2008) recognize that there is an urgent need to address the impact of invasive alien species. Article 8(h) of the CBD states that, “Each contracting Party shall, as far as possible and as appropriate, prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species”. The CBD sets global priorities, guidelines, collects information and helps to coordinate international action on invasive alien species.

The CBD has adopted guidance on prevention, introduction and mitigation of impacts of alien species that threaten ecosystems, habitats or species, which can be accessed on the CBD website (Decision VI 23). The website also provides further information on invasive species and relevant decisions of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD.

Tackling the problem

Prevention is the most cost-efficient and effective method against invasive alien species. Halting the establishment of potentially invasive species in the first place is the first line of defense. Governments conduct customs checks, inspect shipments, conduct risk assessments and set quarantine regulations to try to limit the entry of invasive species. However, global inspection and risk analysis capacity is usually not sufficient.

It is also important to develop economic tools and incentives for the prevention of introductions, and to educate the general public and raise awareness so that informed decisions can be made about how to limit introductions and their spread. Invasive alien species are a global issue that requires collaboration among governments, economic sectors and non-governmental and international organizations. Individuals also have a large part to play, including policymakers, consumers, horticulturalists, landowners, educators, youth and recreationists.

Celebrating the International Day for Biological Diversity

The CBD Secretariat encourages all parties to the Convention and all organizations that deal in some way with the issue to organize activities and events to celebrate the IBD and to take advantage of it to raise public awareness and showcase their work to prevent and manage invasive alien species.

From January 2009, this website will carry case studies and examples of invasive species and action against them and will carry information on actions that we can all take to help combat the problem. Information materials posted on the site will include a booklet on IAS, a poster, a logotype for use by partners and organizations celebrating the IBD, a photo gallery as well as information and education materials targeted at children and youth.

The site will carry links to key international organizations working on invasive alien species, key regional networks and initiatives, networks and initiatives at national level as well as to key initiatives promoting information-sharing. It will also provide links and information on regulations and international agreements.

The site will carry information on celebrations being planned and carried out in countries and organizations around the world and guidance on organizing celebrations.

[tab:Logo and Booklet]

IBD Logo


The logo for the International Day for Biological Diversity 2009 have been designed with a photo of Asian Long-horned Beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis). The long-horned Beetle is native to Eastern parts of Asia, the beetle is believed to have arrived in North America in the wooden packing material used in cargo shipments. Trees favored by the Asian Long-horned Beetle maples, poplars, willows, elms, mulberries, black locusts and other hardwood trees.

Lack of natural enemies in North America to this beetle made the species widely spread. The beetles feed on the leaves and twigs of host trees. Feeding damage on young shoots causes the tree to wither and die in 3-5 years. thereby threatening 71 billion trees valued at 2 trillion US dollars.

IBD Booklet


Download IBD Booklet [English] [Amharic]

Source: CBD Website


Ethiopia celebrated IDB by carrying out the following activities:

  • One day workshop and field visit on sites where invasive species are a major threat to biodiversity
  • Distributing awareness materials such as brochure, booklet, posters, etc. to relevant institutions working on IAS
  • Recognizing the efforts of individuals and institutions working on IAS by presenting Appreciation Certificates
  • Competition for Posters, Short articles on IAS and giving awards to winners
  • Creating awareness using the mass media such as the National TV, Radio, and Newspapers
  • Promoting the IBD and the theme “Invasive Alien Species” using our website (

Full Report is available Here: Download/View (PDF, 0.8MB)

Events organized in collaboration with Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research-UNEP/GEF Removing Barriers to Invasive Plant Management in Africa Project.

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