A recent analysis shows that invasive alien species have cost the Indian economy $127.3 billion (8.3 trillion rupees) over the past 6 decades. Out of 330 invasive alien species, 10 would have hit the Indian economy hard.
The costs were compiled through dialogue with 20 researchers and stakeholders working on the topic as well as Google Scholar and Google Search for popular articles, news and official documents.
India, the second country bearing the costs of invasion
India ranks second after the United States on the list of countries bearing the costs of invasion. India has over 2000 alien species, of which 330 species are declared invasive and out of these 330, only 10 invasive alien species cost the Indian economy Rs. 8.3 trillion.
Based on a global analysis of 112 countries, the authors said the true cost is likely to be even higher and could be “gross under-representation”.
In an interview with Mongabay-India, Alok Bang, an evolutionary biologist and lead author of the study, said that “negative economic impacts are only documented and available for 3% of known invasive species and unavailable/hidden/ under-represented for the remaining 97% of invasive species”. species in India. This is a huge knowledge gap.
As listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Lantana Camara, a tropical American shrub with beautiful flowers is one of the 10 worst invasive species and since its introduction in 1809, an estimated cost of $70 per hectare for its control.
Invasive animals cost 1000 times more than plants
The other concern is the silent impact of invasive species in biodiversity rich areas of central, eastern and northeastern India, of which no cost ratio is available. So far, reports have only focused on South, West and North India. Connections through travel and trade allow the IAS to invade the region.
According to the analysis, more than 35% of all costs are caused by animals, 15% by plants and 1% by fungi and bacteria, which is not normal compared to the distribution of global costs.
Alok Bang explains: “All animal costs were caused by insects. Not a single species of mammal, bird, fish, reptile or amphibian, nor any of the spiders, worms, crabs, snails and other gastropods are represented in these costs. Although the number of invasive plant species (173 species) exceeds the number of invasive animals (157 species) in India’s invasive species list, the cost of invasive plants was 1,000 times less than that of invasive animals .
What are invasive alien species (IAS)?
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), IAS species are introduced, accidentally or deliberately, outside their natural areas and upset the ecological balance by displacing native species.
They could cause economic or environmental damage and adverse effects on human health. This often happens through the movement of people and goods like shipping etc.
How can invasive alien species harm an ecosystem?
Invasive species can displace native species, leading to human-wildlife conflict. In addition, they can also affect the ecological balance of invaded environments.
Invasive alien species can carry disease, compete with or prey on native species, affect food webs, and alter ecosystems by altering soil composition. These could lead to the local or global extinction of native species.
IAS can also have socio-economic impacts. The European Union (EU) faces annual damage worth €12 billion due to the effects of invasive species on human health, damage to infrastructure and agricultural losses.
Is there a law against this in India?
In India, there is no exclusive legislation or policy to deal with invasive alien species. However, Management Action Plans (MAPs) focus on invasive species control activities as well as biodiversity conservation and restoration,
Under sections of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change issues clearance and quarantine certificates for the export of wildlife.
The Destructive Insects and Pests Act 1914 deals with the prevention of introduction into India and transportation from one province to another of any fungus or other pest which destroys or may destroy crops.
Contributions from Mongabay-India, IUCN
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