Government’s Natural Heritage Department will next Friday, May 22, join countries around the world in observing International Day for Biological Diversity.
In December 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the day in an effort to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues.
The theme for this year’s celebration is ???Invasive Alien Species,’ which is deemed to be one of the greatest threats to biodiversity, and to the ecological and economic well-being of society and the planet.
Invasive alien species are plants, animals, pathogens and other organisms that are non-native to an ecosystem, and which may cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health. In particular, they impact adversely upon biodiversity, including decline or elimination of native species – through competition, predation, or transmission of pathogens – and the disruption of local ecosystems and their functions.
Once introduced and, or spread outside their natural habitats, invasive alien species have affected native biodiversity in almost every ecosystem on earth and are one of the greatest threats to biodiversity. Since the 17th century, they have contributed to nearly 40 percent of all animal extinctions for which the cause is known. (Convention on Biological Diversity, (CDB) -2006).
The problem continues to grow at great socio-economic, health and ecological cost around the world. Invasive alien species exacerbate poverty and threaten development through their impact on agriculture, forestry, fisheries and natural systems. The damage is aggravated by climate change, pollution, habitat loss and human-induced disturbance.
To mark the day in Barbados, the Natural Heritage Department will, therefore, be focusing its attention on the Giant African Snail (GAS) and the African Green Monkey, two invasive pests which have been posing both social and economic threats to householders as well as farmers.
On Thursday, May 21, and on Friday, the actual day of observance, the Department?? will host the Holy Innocents Primary and Wesley Hall Infants schools, respectively, for tours of the Barbados Primate Research Centre and Wildlife Reserve.
During the tours, talks will be given on the Giant African Snail by a government entomologist and on the African Green Monkey by an official from the Wildlife Reserve.
The choice of theme is in an effort to provide parties to the CBD, and those dealing with invasive alien species an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue and increase practical action to tackle the problem.