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Preface Annex 1
POLICY OPTIONS FOR ACTION
INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES
Invasive alien species (IAS) have become a major threat to sustainable development in Africa, forcing governments to divert millions of dollars a year to fight the spread of such species. In South Africa, for example, it has been estimated that invasive alien trees and shrubs, which consume about 7 per cent of the country's freshwater, will double in 15 years if they are not controlled. It has been estimated that economic losses due to IAS amount to about 5 per cent of the world economy or about US$1.4 million million annually. This is about three times the gross national product of all countries in Africa (National Botanical Institute and Global Invasive Species Programme 2004).
Invasive alien species pose a serious threat to ecosystems and biodiversity, and are second only to habitat loss as a cause of biodiversity loss. The loss of biodiversity presents a serious threat to the sustainability of human society, as it undermines the provision of essential ecosystem functions and reduces the availability of environmental goods.
Invasive alien species will not be eradicated, at least in the foreseeable future. The only options available to policymakers are to control and manage the species which are already creating havoc for people's livelihoods, economies and ecosystems. The costs of managing IAS will continue to be high.
Urgent action is required to undertake a comprehensive inventory of both floral and faunal IAS, including spatial extent in the region and impacts on people, various economic sectors such as agriculture and forestry, and on endemic species.
Policymakers should also undertake the following:
Governments, the public, the private sector, research organizations and regional and sub-regional organizations have a stake in ensuring that the issue of IAS is high on the agenda. The sharing of information among and between these stakeholders is important.
Result and target date
IAS is an ongoing challenge for policymakers at different levels, and cannot really be tied down to a specific date in terms of control. However, the development of strategies and programmes for individual national and collective sub-regional and regional action is critical. It is important that such strategies and programmes be fully operational by the beginning of the next decade.