Foundations-Building Capacity

Pacilic island countries are particularly vulnerable to the effects of invasive species. After habitat destruction or modification, invasive species are responsible for more species extinctions than any other cause. Further, the rate of extinction of native species has been higher on islands than anywhere else in the world. Invasive species have also degraded native ecosystems.

Invasive alien species are recognised as one of the leading threats to biodiversity and also impose enormous costs on agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and other human enterprises, as well as on human health. Rapidly accelerating human trade, tourism, transport, and travel over the past century have dramatically enhanced the spread of invasive species, allowing them to surmount natural geographic barriers. Not all non-indigenous species are harmful. In fact the majority of species used in agriculture, forestry and fisheries are alien species.

The examples of practice presented in this book focus on students aged 10 to 15, which, depending on the national school system, includes the upper level of primary school, as well as the lower and partly the upper secondary school levels. This age group spans many developmental stages. Currently, most ESD publications are geared toward children in primary schools or toward students at the higher secondary and tertiary levels of education, who have almost reached adulthood.

Many countries are currently looking at growing high-yielding crops for the production of biofuels as alternatives to traditional fuels (petrol and diesel) to address imminent energy shortages and reduce impacts of climate change. This usually involves the importation of foreign (i.e., alien) species of plants that are known for their fast and productive growth.

Many governments are actively encouraging private investment in biofuels developments to harness the perceived benefits of biofuels such as agricultural development, increased energy security and independence, improved balance of trade and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. However, in the rush to pursue the benefits of biofuels, the risks of invasion by introduced species have received little or no attention and are not being adequately prevented or managed. The situation is most acute in countries lacking the capacity and resources to adequately avoid and manage the risks of invasion.