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Improving lives by solving problems in agriculture and the environment

Impacts of invasive species

Impacts of invasive species

Economies icon

Economies – Invasive species are costing a fortune – both directly, through attempting to control them, and indirectly through lost resources and devaluing land.

Losses caused by invasive species on just eight staple crops are nearing $12.8 billion per annum.

Safety icon

Health – Invasive species can have severe impacts on human and animal health. The allergenic pollen of common ragweed's (Ambrosia) impacts are well known, giant hogweed's toxic sap can cause burns to skin, and opuntia's thorns cause abscesses in the stomachs of the livestock who eat them.

Biodiversity icon

Biodiversity – Invasive weeds crowd out native vegetation and limit plant and animal species diversity. Some invasive plant species can reduce native plant richness by up to 90%.

Water icon

Water and fisheries – Invasive weeds growing in and beside water bodies have the potential to alter food chains, and their impact on water quality can threaten aquatic ecosystems and fisheries. Water hyacinth which is found in Lake Victoria, Kenya, is a well-known example.

Infrastructure icon

Infrastructure – Invasive species, particularly weeds, can cause significant damage to buildings, drainage systems, railway lines, and other structures. This can add huge costs to development and regeneration schemes.

The impacts of invasive species to livelihoods in the developing world are huge. We have created a dedicated website to highlight the impacts on smallholder farmers in Asia and Africa. With videos and information from our Invasive Species Compendium, it highlights the plight of those affected and some of the worst invasive species.

Ecological intensification of smallholder farms in Kenya

There is limited knowledge on the agronomic potential of biodiversity-based ecosystem services such as natural pest control and pollination in smallholder systems. To sustainably intensify production, there is an urgent need to develop safe, sustainable and affordable methods to reduce pest burdens whilst increasing yields. The ecological... >>

Addressing scale insect threats in Kenya

In Kenya, scale insect pests are damaging native trees and crops and, consequently, causing yield losses of up-to 91%. Smallholders’ awareness of the threats posed by these insects is low because they are small and cryptic, whilst local entomologists cannot easily identify them. Pesticides are therefore misused, killing other beneficial organisms... >>

Action on Invasives

Invasive species impact the livelihoods of the rural poor who are dependent on natural resources for income and food security. CABI is implementing an ambitious programme to address this complex issue. We are working with local, national and regional partners, and across agriculture, environment and other sectors, to create an integrated and... >>