A recent analysis shows that invasive alien species have cost the Indian economy $127.3 billion (rupees 8.3 trillion) over the past 6 decades. Out of 330 invasive alien species, 10 have reportedly hit the Indian economy badly.
The costs were compiled through dialogue with 20 researchers and stakeholders working on the topic, along with Google Scholar and Google searches for popular articles, news and official documents.
India, second highest cost country for invasion
India is second only to the US on the list of countries bearing invasion costs. India has more than 2000 alien species out of which 330 species have been declared invasive and out of these 330 only 10 invasive alien species cost Indian economy Rs. 8.3 trillion.
Based on a global analysis of 112 countries, the authors indicated that actual costs are likely to be even higher and that this could be “gross underrepresentation”.
In an interview with Mongabay-India, Alok Bang, evolutionary biologist and lead author of the study, said that “the adverse economic impacts are documented and available for only 3% of known invasive species and unavailable/masked/underrepresented for the remaining 97% of invasive species are species in India. That is a huge knowledge gap.”
As listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Lantana Camara, a tropical American shrub with beautiful flowers, is among the top 10 worst invasive species and has had an estimated cost of $70 per hectare to control since its introduction in 1809 .
Invasive animals cost 1000 times more than plants
The other concern is the silent impact of invasive species in the biodiversity-rich areas of Central, East and Northeast India, the free report of which is available. So far, reports have only focused on southern, western and northern India. The connections through travel and trade allow IAS to invade the region.
According to the analysis, over 35% of all costs are caused by animals, 15% by plants and 1% by fungi and bacteria, which is not normal compared to the distribution of global costs.
Alok Bang explains: “All animal costs were caused by insects. Not a single species of mammal, bird, fish, reptile, or amphibian, or any of the spiders, worms, crabs, snails, and other snails are represented in this cost. Although the number of invasive plant species (173 species) exceeds the number of invasive animals (157 species) in India’s invasive species list, the cost of invasive plants compared to invasive animals was 1,000 times lower.”
What are Invasive Alien Species (IAS)?
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), IAS species are accidentally or intentionally introduced outside of their natural ranges, disrupting the ecological balance by crowding out native species.
They could cause economic or ecological damage and adversely affect human health. This is often done by the movement of people and goods such as shipping, etc.
How can invasive alien species harm an ecosystem?
Invasive species can crowd out native species, leading to human-animal conflict. In addition, they can also affect the ecological balance of infested environments.
Invasive alien species can transmit disease, displace or prey on native species, affect food chains, and alter ecosystems by altering soil composition. These could lead to local or global extinctions of native species.
IAS can also have socio-economic impacts. The European Union (EU) faces damages of €12 billion annually due to the impact of invasive species on human health, infrastructure damage and agricultural losses.
Is there a law against this in India?
In India, there is no exclusive legislation or policy to deal with the invasive alien species. However, Management Action Plans (MAP) focus on activities to control invasive species along with biodiversity conservation and restoration,
Under Articles of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, the Department for Environment, Forests and Climate Change issues permits and quarantine certificates for export of wildlife.
The Destructive Insects and Pests Act 1914 deals with the prevention of the introduction into India and the transport from one province to another of fungi or other pests which destroy or might destroy crops.
Contributions from Mongabay-India, IUCN
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