Invasive species lead driver of biodiversity loss globally and in Australia

The first global assessment of invasive alien species has been released, detailing staggering losses for nature and the economy, alongside escalating threats to human wellbeing.

The report took four years and is the work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, which advises the nations of the world on pressing environmental concerns.

It says nature is suffering as human activity such as trade, tourism and changing land use help plants, animals, insects and pathogens spread to new places, frequently with devastating results.

It’s estimated human activity has introduced more than 37,000 alien species to regions and biomes where they don’t belong, a figure that’s rising at an unprecedented rate and fuelling an extraordinary loss of biodiversity as they prey on and crowd out native species.

The report finds that invasive species have played a role in 60% of global plant and animal extinctions and that prevention measures are underfunded and not prioritised, particularly for environmental risks.

Global economic costs have been conservatively estimated at more than $423 billion a year.

Scientists from Australia and New Zealand who helped write the report say there’s an immediate need for collective international action and there’s no time to lose as the climate warms.

Australia and New Zealand are considered hotspots for biological invasions but the authors say there’s plenty that can be done about that.

Read more about the report here.