Dramatically underestimated, one of the biggest threats to biodiversity and another challenge that increasingly requires more ranger capacity: Invasive alien species are a capital threat to the world, according to the latest IPBES report, with hotspots mainly in Europe and the USA.

According to the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), Invasive Species (IS) are one of the five major direct drivers of biodiversity loss globally – alongside land and sea use change, direct exploitation of organisms, climate change and pollution. Now IPBES released a report showing that more than 37,000 alien species have been introduced by human activities to habitats around the world, of which more than 3,500 pose a serious threat to nature and its services to humans.

Rangers in Europe control invasive species such as American mink, raccoon and grey squirrel

The good news: This threat could be effectively controlled, mainly through prevention, to avoid the intentional or unintentional introduction of these species through human activities, or through on-the-ground management of their populations. The latter is a task to which many rangers in Europe also devote their working time, especially when it comes to controlling plants and coordinating volunteers to assist. But controlling invasive species like American mink, raccoon or grey squirrel is also part of ranger work.

More ranger capacities could save costs and stopp biodiversity loss caused by invasive species

According to the report, the problem is currently underestimated, which leads to enormous costs: As per IPBES, the global economic cost of invasive alien species exceeded $423 billion annually in 2019, with costs having at least quadrupled every decade since 1970. These costs are also caused by a dramatic loss of species due to IS: they were a major factor in 60 percent and the only driver in 16 percent of global animal and plant extinctions that 86 experts from 49 countries recorded for the report, and at least 218 invasive alien species have been responsible for more than 1,200 local extinctions.

Thus, this is another field that shows how the expansion of ranger capacities would contribute to the protection of biodiversity, planetary health and not least cost reduction.

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