Countries in Southeast Asia addresses the issue on invasive alien species with the release of Action Plan for the Management of Invasive Species, which is a roadmap to protect and conserve biodiversity.
The action plan was released following the official endorsement and acknowledgement during the 17th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment (AMME) in Laos and the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Indonesia. Indonesia, with support from the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), took the lead in the development of the ASEAN Action Plan for Invasive Alien Species Management.
Dealing with Invasive Species is considered as a pressing biodiversity issue among ASEAN countries, including the Philippines.
The spread of invasive species is considered as a major threat to the region’s biodiversity since they can affect native species and have negative effects on the socioeconomic well-being and physical health of the human population.
The ASEAN Center for Biodiversity said that the rapid growth and occurrence of invasive species in the region’s natural environment that is already suffering from fragile ecosystems and threats of biodiversity loss, calls for a region-wide approach and multilateral cooperation.
“It has been proven that the prevention, control, and management of invasive alien species is beyond the national level and necessitates a strengthened cross-sectoral and transboundary intervention and collaboration. With the ASEAN Action Plan already in place, the region is definitely ready to contribute to the achievement of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework Target 6. We also look forward to making this Action Plan as one of the key programme outputs of the Action Plan of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity for 2016 to 2025,” said Ms. Clarissa Arida, ASEAN Center for Biodiversity Programmes Department Director.
In Puerto Princesa, the Sangguniang Panlungsod, through City Councilor Jimmy L. Carbonell, has proposed an ordinance to be known as “Invasive Forest Ordinance” prohibiting the introduction and planting of invasive tree species because of its negative impact to the environment and biodiversity. The proposed ordinance aims for a balanced ecology in the city.
Among the identified invasive species reflected in the draft ordinance are African Tulip (Spathodea campanulata), Alibangbang (Bauhinia malabarica), Gmelina/Yemane (Gmelina arborea), Ipil-Ipil (Leucaena leucocephala), Large-Leaf or Big-Leaved Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla), Mangium (Acacia mangium), Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia papyriferia), and Rubber Tree (Hevea brasiliensis), while discussions with the Sangguniang Panlungsod and the City ENRO are ongoing in identifying invasive species and about their plans to remove invasive tree species.
The proposed ordinance noted that these species are considered invasive because they “overwhelm” Palawan native tree species and hinders them from thriving. They also pose a threat to the ecosystem that if left unrestrained could inflict the environment or cause harm to human health.
This proposed ordinance, once approved, will prohibit any individual, group or community to introduce or plant the above-mentioned species while fines ranging from P1,000 to P5,000 will be imposed to violators.
Senior Environmental Management Specialist (SEMS) Forester Zorina C. Arellano and of the City ENRO Forest Management Division said that native trees are linked to the well-being of the insects, birds and wildlife species that naturally occur in an area, thus it is important to consider the selection of native trees that supports wildlife and biodiversity like mammals, avian species, bees and others that form part of the biodiversity. Native trees should be planted and not introduced species that are mostly invasive.
“Iyung native trees sa area ‘yun na ang dati nilang tirahan and other plant and wildlife species are dependent on them. Kasi pag invasive or introduced species, ma-dominate nila yung area at mawawala ‘yung ibang trees. Iyung (plant and wildlife) species that are dependent on other trees ay wala ng makain kasi iisa lang na species ang nag dominate. Ma-limit ‘yung biodiversity,” she said.
The Convention on Biological Diversity reports that nearly 40% of all animal extinctions with known causes that have occurred since the 17th century are largely attributable to IAS. Certain plants, animals, or even pathogens that have been introduced to a new environment whether intentional or unintentional, can be considered invasive alien species. The spread and eventual establishment of invasive species outside of their natural habitats can disrupt the ecological balance in invaded areas as they compete with native species for food and nutrients.