DEVELOPING EFFECTIVE RESPONSES

MAKING CHOICES

It is important that an informed approach be taken to new introductions of IAS as well as to decisions related to existing ones. Policy and decision-making processes that evaluate the various benefits and risks associated with IAS need to be adopted. (Box 6, for example, looks at the benefits and costs of the black wattle tree). Chapter 8: Interlinkages: The Environment and Policy Web considers the opportunities offered by interlinking policies as well as the use of management tools that integrate development and environmental considerations. Among these are environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and valuation techniques. Chapter 9: Genetically Modified Crops assesses the value of risk assessment processes that effectively link uncertainty, scientific knowledge, and social and economic objectives. It considers the opportunities of inclusive policy processes that draw on a wide range of expertise and values. Given the central role that the general public, and in particular the business sector, plays in the proliferation of IAS, this is perhaps an important tool for decision making related to IAS.

BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS

Climate change and
the introduction of
invasive alien
species are the
two drivers of
environmental
change that are most
difficult to reverse.

MA 2006

Managing and controlling IAS presents special challenges. The public are particularly important partners because of their role in introducing and maintaining IAS. Many introductions occur because the importer or user is unaware of the environmental, social and economic costs of a given species and thus information and its effective communication are critical. Even where there is an appreciation of these costs, many IAS are maintained because the public do not identify them as such or see them as a threat. This is particularly true of ornamental plants, exotic pets and economically valuable species which have been used over long periods. Bringing in the public and the business sector as partners must be a cornerstone of any effective IAS policy.

INVESTING IN RESEARCH AND CAPACITY

It is widely acknowledged that good information and understanding is the basis for sound policy and management. While considerable knowledge exists about IAS, there are still many gaps. Some of these gaps relate to the impacts of specific species on other species and ecosystems, while others relate to management strategies. For example, while we know that Suncus murinus (the Asian musk shrew or house shrew) is a rapid colonizer and a growing ecological threat, preying on or competing with many animal species and that it has a large and expanding range in Africa, very little research has been carried out on how to effectively manage the species.

It is critical for Africa to invest in and to cooperate in building better understanding and capacity to deal with these and other management challenges. This involves, as discussed in Chapter 8: Interlinkages: The Environment and Policy Web, empowering institutions and people. Direct investment in research and technical agencies is an important aspect of this, as is the development of good institutional and governance systems.

Investment in management is essential – and this too needs to be at multiple levels. Different management techniques are needed for new and established IAS. Techniques that focus on the eradication of specific species need to be complemented by more integrated approaches to ecosystem management. For example, integrated water resource management (IWRM) can complement chemical, biological and manual eradication. Management needs to be closely linked to monitoring and evaluation and adapted accordingly.