Invasive species are a growing problem all over the world, and Australia, an isolated island state with a unique fauna and flora, is especially vulnerable. Over the years incredible harm has been done by such pests as foxes, rabbits, toads, carp, prickly pear, blackberries, rubber vine and the tree-killing disease phytophthora. At last count Australia had 2700 weed species and more than 200 marine invaders.
Weeds alone cost the economy $3.3 billion each year. Foxes are blamed for the extinction of several marsupials, and a new disease has been blamed for the disappearance of several frog species. The discovery of red imported fire ants in Brisbane in 2001 shows that major pests continue to invade.
Government reports concede that Australia is failing to address the threat properly. New pests keep entering the country, and entrenched pests keep multiplying.
Australia State of the Environment 2001, an independent report to the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Heritage, has this to say (page 52): ‘Australia has insufficient resources to tackle even those species of identified national significance, let alone the threat from new incursions…’ It further admits: ‘The risk assessment protocols, strategies for containment are all very weak for exotic threats in non-agricultural species’.
It was because Australia is not responding well that the Invasive Species Council was formed. We are the first group in the world formed to lobby against invasive species of all kinds (as opposed to groups that tackle other issues besides invasives).
The ISC became incorporated in July 2002, and we held our first public event on 26 August 2002 in Melbourne. Those of you who were there will recall the wonderful atmosphere. We have since received messages of support from all over Australia, and even from overseas.
|Author||Invasive Species Council|