Invasive alien species 

Invasive alien species 


Why in the news?

In 2024-2025, the Kerala government’s decision to grant permission to the Kerala Forest Development Corporation (KFDC) to plant eucalyptus trees stirred up controversy. Environmentalists swiftly voiced their concerns, arguing that such a move would have detrimental effects on forests and exacerbate human-animal conflicts in the future. 

Consequently, on May 20, the government took steps to amend its initial order. The revised directive now strictly limits permission to the removal of exotic tree species solely from lands under the control . This adjustment aims to address the environmental and ecological concerns raised by various stakeholders while still allowing the KFDC to pursue its financial objectives within defined parameters.

What are exotic plants?

Exotic plants are non-native species that have been introduced to a region or ecosystem where they did not originally occur. These plants are typically brought in deliberately or accidentally by humans, often for ornamental purposes, agriculture, or landscaping. 

Exotic plants can sometimes thrive in their new environment, outcompeting native species and disrupting the balance of the ecosystem. In some cases, they may become invasive, spreading rapidly and causing harm to the environment, agriculture, or human health.

Examples of exotic plants include certain species of invasive weeds, ornamental flowers, and agricultural crops introduced to new regions.

What are invasive alien species?

Invasive alien species, often referred to simply as invasive species, are plants, animals, fungi, or microorganisms that are introduced to a new environment and cause significant harm to the ecosystem, economy, or human health. 

These species typically thrive in their new environment due to a lack of natural predators, competitors, or diseases that would normally keep their populations in check in their native habitats. 

Invasive alien species can outcompete native species for resources such as food, water, and habitat, leading to declines in biodiversity and ecosystem health.

Invasive species are considered one of the greatest threats to biodiversity worldwide and can have severe economic impacts, such as reducing agricultural yields, damaging infrastructure, and increasing the cost of controlling their populations.

 Examples of invasive alien species include plants like kudzu and water hyacinth, animals like the cane toad and Asian carp, and pathogens like the chytrid fungus, which has devastated amphibian populations in many parts of the world.

Impact of Invasive alien species 

The impact of invasive alien species on ecology can be profound and wide-ranging:

  1. Biodiversity Loss: Invasive species can outcompete native species for resources such as food, water, and habitat. This competition can lead to a decline in native species populations, potentially resulting in local extinctions and reducing overall biodiversity.
  2. Altered Ecosystem Dynamics: When invasive species become dominant in an ecosystem, they can disrupt natural ecological processes such as nutrient cycling, pollination, and seed dispersal. This disruption can have cascading effects throughout the ecosystem, affecting the abundance and distribution of other species.
  3. Habitat Degradation: Invasive species often have high reproductive rates and aggressive growth habits, allowing them to quickly colonize and dominate habitats. This can lead to the degradation or loss of native habitats such as forests, wetlands, and grasslands, further exacerbating the decline of native species.
  4. Changes in Community Structure: The introduction of invasive species can alter the composition and structure of ecological communities. For example, invasive predators can decimate populations of native prey species, leading to imbalances in predator-prey relationships and ecosystem function.
  5. Genetic Pollution: Invasive species can hybridize with native species, leading to genetic pollution and loss of genetic diversity within native populations. This can weaken the adaptive capacity of native species to respond to environmental changes and threats.
  6. Increased Vulnerability to Other Threats: Invasive species can make ecosystems more vulnerable to other stressors such as habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. By reducing the resilience of ecosystems, invasive species can exacerbate the impacts of these threats on native biodiversity.

Overall, the ecological impacts of invasive alien species can be long-lasting and difficult to reverse. Prevention, early detection, and rapid response are critical for managing and mitigating the effects of invasive species on ecosystems.

Download plutus ias current affairs eng med 28th May 2024


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