Invasive species, climate change "deadly duo" - report

Fri Oct 22, 2010 7:24am GMT

* Warmer world can give species an edge, disrupting nature

* Spread of more tolerant species threatens livelihoods

* Eradication, steps to control spread are key

By David Fogarty, Climate Change Correspondent, Asia

SINGAPORE, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Climate change is set to drive the spread of invasive plant and animals species, threatening forests, fisheries and crops, in a double blow to nature and livelihoods, a World Bank-funded report said on Friday. The study by Nairobi-based Global Invasive Species Programme says a warmer world, more extreme weather and higher levels of planet-warming carbon dioxide will give some species an edge, devasting ecosystems at sea and on land.

"The estimated damage from invasive species worldwide totals more than $1.4 trillion annually -- 5 percent of the global economy," says the report issued on the sidelines of a major U.N. meeting in Japan aimed at combatting the destruction of nature.

The United Nations says climate change, pollution, deforestation and over-hunting have led to a rapid rise in extinctions, threatening the richness of nature that underpins services such as clean air, water as well as food and health.

"Individually, climate change and invasive species present two of the greatest threats to biodiversity and the provision of valuable ecosystem services," says the report for policymakers.

It outlines myriad examples of invasive plants and animals that have proven much more adept at survival than other local species, leading to erosion, damage to crops, livestock and fisheries and lost income for tourism.   Continued...

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