Humans a major invasive alien species

22 May 2009

Media Releases 2009
22 May 2009.




Humans are a major invasive alien species in most ecosystems, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).
May 22 is International Biodiversity Day, the theme of which this year is invasive alien species.
According to the UN’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) Report of 2005, over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history, largely to meet rapidly growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel. This has resulted in a substantial and largely irreversible loss in the diversity of life on Earth.

SPA national president, Ms Sandra Kanck says that global population in the past 50 years has more than doubled from 3 billion to today’s 6.8 billion.

“We have become like other invasive species, destroying other species and damaging the very habitats on which we all depend,” says Ms Kanck.

“Species are becoming extinct at between 50 and 100 times the ‘normal’ rate. The primary cause of this is loss of natural habitat. Habitat loss is generally greatest where population density is highest.

“For instance, up to 95 per cent of the giraffe population in the Masai Mara reserve in Kenya has declined as a result of increased human settlement around the unfenced park.”

Harvard Professor Edward O Wilson, known as the ‘Father of Biodiversity’, in his book The Diversity of Life wrote: ‘The raging monster upon the land is population growth”.

“But it is not just other species at risk,” says Ms Kanck. “We depend on the natural world; on ecosystems. Yet the MEA Report noted that approximately 60 per cent of the ecosystem services it examined ‘are being degraded or used unsustainably, including fresh water, capture fisheries, air and water purification, and the regulation of regional and local climate, natural hazards, and pests.’

“As Edward O Wilson himself has warned, our own immediate future on the planet is jeopardised by the current human-induced mass extinctions,” says Ms Kanck.

Further information: Sandra Kanck 08 8336 4114


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