Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Invasive species organizations from Canada, US and Mexico will create North American Invasive Species Framework after Ottawa conference

(November 9 2014 – Williams Lake, BC) Following last month’s Weeds Across Borders, the bi-annual gathering of professionals and organizations working in invasive species management from Canada, the United States and Mexico, a North America Invasive Species Framework will be created to link existing federal plans, national strategies, and to identify shared priorities and monitoring indicators to prevent and contain invasive species across the continent.

More than 70 leaders and invasive species experts from across North America gathered in Ottawa October 14-16 to work together on shared issues caused by the transport and establishment of aquatic and terrestrial invasive species across the continent. This included leaders from federal, provincial and state governments along with non-government organizations, and industry. At the conclusion of the conference, the participants agreed to take specific actions to ensure increased coordination and planning for effective communication and responses to new and emerging invasive species threats
“Invasive species do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries, so we need to keep talking and working together to collaborate and coordinate our work in preventing and stopping invasive plants and other species from creating further economic, environmental and social costs,” said Gail Wallin, Executive Director of the Invasive Species Council of BC and co-chair of the Canadian Council on Invasive Species, which hosted Weeds Across Borders with the support of an international advisory committee. 
Participants established plans to create a high-level North America Invasive Species Framework that would strategically address issues shared across international borders, with focus on prevention and detection, rapid response, pathways and communications. The Framework will expand coordination, collaboration, and action across North America against all aquatic and terrestrial invasive species threats, and involve input and review from federal agencies, provincial/state governments, aboriginal/tribal, industry and non-government organizations. 

In addition, the group agreed that a North American Invasive Species Directory of national and international organizations, governments and industries be developed focused primarily on invasive species management in North America. This directory would be linked to a continent-wide website portal for invasive species to provide linkages to national and international organizations, governments and industries focused primarily on invasive species management in North America. 

Future bi-annual gatherings will be renamed the North American Invasive Species Forum to reflect that invasive species include other species beyond plants. The next gathering is proposed for the Great Lakes region of the United States in 2016. 

Damages and economic losses caused by aquatic and terrestrial invasive species worldwide are estimated at more than $1.4 trillion; nearly 5 percent of the global economy. Forestry, agriculture, fisheries, and the recreation and tourism industries are some of the most heavily impacted, with millions in lost revenue each year. All North American ecosystems and nations are at risk, and these harmful exotic invaders pose a greater threat to native biodiversity than pollution, harvest, and disease combined. In the United States alone, invasive species annually cause an estimated $138 billion in economic losses, and over 46% of native species listed as threatened or endangered are at risk of further decline from the spread of invasive species. 

Invasive species directly and indirectly threaten human health; causing disease, allergic reactions, respiratory distress, and other health problems in people of all ages. Highly flammable invasive plants increase the frequency and intensity of wildfires, and are implicated in large-scale electric power outages. Other invasive plants obstruct roadway sightlines and traffic control signs along transportation corridors, creating extremely unsafe conditions for motorists. Aggressive populations of invasive fish, mussels, and aquatic plants degrade water quantity and quality, and cause declines in native species populations in both marine and freshwater areas. Increasing global trade and transportation, coupled with the significant environmental impacts of global climate change, are expected to expand invasions of harmful exotic species into new areas from the Arctic to the Caribbean and beyond. 

About the Canadian Council on Invasive Species 
The Canadian Council on Invasive Species works collaboratively across jurisdictional boundaries to support actions and information that can help reduce the threat and impacts of invasive species. Invasive species councils, committees, and coalitions representing provinces and territories across Canada established this federal society to work together to reduce the impact of invasive species across the country. 

Media contact: 
Gail Wallin, Co-Chair 
Canadian Council on Invasive Species 

P: 250 305-9161 

Barry Gibbs, Co-Chair 
Canadian Council on Invasive Species 
P: 403-850-5977