International Day for Biological Diversity

22/05/2009

 

International Day for Biological Diversity

A message from the Secretary General on the International Day for Biological Diversity

On behalf of the Ramsar community, I send my best wishes on the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity, 22 May 2009. This year’s theme, ‘Invasive Alien Species’, is an especially appropriate one for the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands: as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment wetland synthesis report has indicated, invasive species are considered one of the main direct drivers of the degradation of wetlands alongside habitat change, climate change, over-exploitation, and pollution.

Wetland ecosystems, including lakes, rivers, marshes, rice fields, and coastal areas, provide many services to humans that contribute to our well-being and to the alleviation of poverty –  the loss of such services through the introduction of alien invasive species is well documented and likely to increase through aquaculture, shipping and global commercial practices. To take but one example of the economic impact on just one ecosystem service, the cost of water hyacinth, a pan-tropical weed, and other water weeds in developing countries, related directly to water use, is estimated at US$ 100 million per year. At the global level, the yearly damage and control costs of invasive species are estimated at US$1.4 trillion.

This International Day for Biological Diversity is therefore an appropriate time to remind ourselves of the immense value of wetland ecosystems and the significant impact that the introduction of invasive species can have on ecosystem health, and thus on human health and local livelihoods. It is a time to encourage all members of society to take some responsibility, at an appropriate level, for avoiding the introduction of invasive species and to minimize their impact wherever possible.

The Convention on Biological Diversity is to be congratulated on the selection of this important theme and for the production of some excellent materials on the extent, impact, and opportunities for control of invasive alien species.

Anada Tiéga,
Secretary General,
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands

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