Invasive species threaten to extinguish Australian flora and fauna by 2050

Sydney, Australia, Nov 23 (EFE).- Invasive species such as European rabbits, feral cats and pigs, cane toads, foxes and weeds threaten to extinguish Australia’s unique flora and fauna by 2050, according to a study published on Tuesday.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, the government’s scientific research agency) study said that climate change, international trade and travel, as well as extreme weather events such as floods, fires and drought have driven the spread of invasive species.

Its report entitled “Fighting plagues and predators: Australia’s path to a pest and weed-free future” said that these invasive species are endangering more than 1,250 land-based threatened Australian species, equivalent to eight in 10.

Since British colonization of Australia in the 19th century, “invasive species have contributed to the confirmed extinctions of 79 Australian species,” it added.

Much of the blame lies with 207 weed species, 57 invasive animals and three pathogens, according to this study, which puts the “conservative” cost of damage caused by these invasive species over the last six decades at about AU$390 million ($282 million).

The greatest vertebrate threat is European rabbits, which have infested two-thirds of Australia, followed by feral cats and pigs, foxes and cane toads.

The report recommends that Australia focus on innovative solutions to remove the main feral predators over the next 30 years.

Invasive species, which are considered the fifth most important problem facing the planet’s environment and Australia’s largest, also cause serious damage to the agricultural sector causing an increase in the prices of food and fibre, according to CSIRO.

The report highlights the need to accelerate emerging biosecurity technologies and urgently develop new techniques to prevent, eradicate and control invasive pests in Australia, where there are 2,700 species of weeds, with a new one appearing every 18 days.

“Urgent, decisive, coordinated action is crucial to stopping the spread of invasive species and to protect our extraordinary, irreplaceable native animals and plants, and Australia has a great track record in this space,” said report co-author and CSIRO scientist Dr Andy Sheppard. EFE


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