Invasive Alien Species
Purpose - The impact of eradicating invasive species can be dramatic
Invasive Alien Species are animals and plants that are introduced accidently or deliberately into a natural environment where they are not normally found.
They have been the most important driver of documented bird extinctions, being implicated in the disappearance of at least 71 species since 1500. This trend continues and more than half of the world’s 625 threatened bird species are in decline as a consequence of alien threats. The problem is especially acute on islands, where endemic birds often lack adequate defences against introduced predators such as rats and cats. Small island birds in particular are most at risk from invasive alien species.
Despite the magnitude of the problem there is much that can, and has, been achieved. Over the last two decades there have been considerable advances in eradication techniques, and a number of recent and current island restoration projects attest to the dramatic success that can be achieved when there is sufficient resources and political will.
Programme - Building global solutions from single-island experiences
The BirdLife Invasive Alien Species Programme is preventing the further spread of alien threats by tackling the highest priorities for eradication and control. From a local to global level, our Partners are working towards their united goals of:
- Identifying and promoting priorities for eradicating or controlling Invasive Alien Species and preventing their spread.
- Developing and advocating for effective international, regional and national policy frameworks addressing Invasive Alien Species.
- Strengthening and developing capacity for designing, implementing and sharing techniques to tackle Invasive Alien Species.
- Eradicating or controlling Invasive Alien Species at Important Bird Areas (IBAs) and priority restoration sites where they constitute a major current or potential conservation problem.
Programme - Rat-free and recovering
By addressing invasive species, four Critically Endangered birds have been saved from extinction. Black Robin , Seychelles Magpie-robin , Mauritius Parakeet and Rarotonga Monarch were all once reduced to just a few remaining individuals, but now have much healthier populations as a result of concerted conservation efforts and recovery programmes.
In the Pacific, BirdLife Partners are helping to restore island ecosystems by eradicating Invasive Alien Species. Together they have worked in 30 islands on five species of introduced mammal across Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Palau. In excess of one hundred islands have been surveyed for seabirds and introduced species to help understand the scale of the problem and to prioritise islands for further restoration projects. Of particular note is our work in Fiji, where we have been working with Partners to deliver Sustainable Forest Management . Eradicating rats and captive breeding have helped save the Campbell Islands Teal from extinction .
Read more on some of the issues we are working on:
- Native birds on Gough Island are being devastated by house mice
- An ambitious eradication project is currently underway on the Antarctic island of South Georgia
Policy and Science - Early successes mean we can be more ambitious
As techniques and materials continue to improve, it is likely that many more island restoration projects will become feasible in the coming years. Consequently, BirdLife International is working with a number of other organisations to compile a scientifically-robust list of the sites that most urgently require invasive species eradication.
Together, we’re advocating for effective global, regional and national policy frameworks addressing Invasive Alien Species. For example, we know that invasive species cause around 12.5 billion Euros worth of damage each year in Europe alone. To address this we’re advocating for improved legislation from the European Parliament to stop this ticking time-bomb.
People - Communities benefit, and their help is essential
The loss of native biodiversity is not the only consequence of Invasive Alien Species. There are numerous examples of communities, businesses and families feeling major effects on their food security, health and wellbeing.
BirdLife and Partners are working with local communities to help restore island ecosystems by eradicating invasive alien species . The work improves livelihoods and ensures that effective biosecurity is in place to stop re-invasions.
- Realising Fiji’s Dream - Working towards Sustainable Forest Management For People, For Nature, Forever
- Pacific People Fighting Invasive Species – Explanatory Booklet