INVASIVE SPECIES PLANNING GUIDE RELEASED

News Release

Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) Apia, Samoa August 12, 2009

The threat posed by invasive species such as introduced pests, weeds and diseases, to the Pacific region is clear from many recent lessons of the devastation they can cause.

One such lesson is the Brown Tree Snake (Boiga irregularis) accidentally introduced to Guam in the 1940s, which causes Guam to spend over $US 5 million a year on damage and management costs. Another is the taro leaf blight, a fungal disease that arrived in Samoa in the 1990s and decimated taro production; this is estimated to have cost Samoa $US 40 million.

In a region of small nations and territories with limited budgets, strong, solid planning and cooperation for invasive species management is essential to controlling their impacts in different islands.

To assist these efforts, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), has just launched (July 2009) the "Guidelines for Invasive Species Management in the Pacific".

The aim of the Guidelines is to assist invasive species planning and prioritisation by providing a guide to the activities required in a comprehensive programme of invasive species management, whether for an individual country or island, or for a local or regional agency.

"Until now, invasive species planning in the Pacific can sometimes be rather arbitrary, often depending heavily upon who attends meetings, whereas what is needed for a good plan or strategy is careful consideration of all possible management options, followed by objective prioritisation of the action to be taken. " Explained Dr Alan Tye, the Invasive Species Officer at SPREP.

"The Guidelines don’t set priorities but are designed to facilitate priority-setting by users, who can select the parts of the Guidelines relevant to their own strategy and local conditions or agency responsibilities. They are a starting point that helps to make sure that nothing important is forgotten when putting together a plan."

The 20-page booklet covers three main themes. "Foundations" includes the basic requirements that underlie any invasive species work: generating support including political support and funding, building capacity and legislation. "Problem definition, Prioritisation and Decision-making" includes gathering baseline information and monitoring, prioritisation methods, and research. The third section covers "Management Action", including biosecurity, management goals and techniques, and post-management restoration.

The "Guidelines for Invasive Species Management in the Pacific" are available for free download at: www.sprep.org/publication/pub_detail.asp?id=699" target="_blank">http://www.sprep.org/publication/pub_detail.asp?id=699. If you would like hard copies or more details, please contact the Information Resource Centre at SPREP: Eirc@sprep.org; T (685) 21929; F (685) 20231; W www.sprep.org.

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