Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP)

Invasive species are plants or animals living where they don’t belong and causing harm.

Every living thing in our Pacific islands environment is called biodiversity. Trees, fish, birds, mushrooms, forests and mangroves are all part of biodiversity.

Invasive species can be spread deliberately by people for food, as pets, for economic opportunity, or for planting in the garden. A few species such as the mongoose, were deliberately introduced to try and control other pests, but ended up becoming serious invasive species. Invasive species can be introduced accidently such as attaching themselves on cargo, clothing or equipment used in the field. In the marine environment, invasive species are commonly introduced through the ballast water of ships.

The Little Fire Ant may be small but it has a very long scientific name - Wasmannia auropunctata. It is about 1.5 mm with a light to golden brown colour. Its home is Central and South America but it has travelled far to the Pacific islands and now lives in eight of our island countries - French Polynesia, Guam, Hawaii, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Wallis and Futuna.

Rapidly expanding human populations and associated economic growth and overconsumption is resulting in serious degradation of the natural environment human survival depends on (Vitousek et al., 1997; Sanderson et al., 2002; Orr, 2004; Alroy, 2010; Branch et al., 2013). Almost half of the global human population currently lives within 150km of the coast (UN Atlas of the Oceans, 2014). This results in severe pressures being placed on marine and coastal environments.