28 March 2005

Nigeria: Campaign Against Forest Destruction Intensified

Lagos — The campaign against the destruction of Forest ecosystem has been intensified by the introduction of a new website on forest invasive species in Africa which will enable countries to share information on outbreaks and on ways to tackle them.

The Food and Agriculture Organization FAO in a statement explained that the site will help countries to more effectively address the problem of invasive species.

"Until now, African countries lacked effective means to share information on forest invasive species despite an increase in the spread of pests across Africa. The new website is facilitating the information flow," said Gillian Allard, an FAO specialist on forest health.

Invasive species are species not native to a specific forest ecosystem, whose introduction does or is likely to cause harm to the ecosystem. Invasive species have always been of concern but their threat has grown seriously with the increase in trade, travel and transport.

The website has been created by African specialists at the initiative of the Forest Invasive Species Network for Africa (FISNA), and is hosted by FAO. Features include information on new outbreaks of invasive pest species and woody species. It also provides references, publications and other links related to invasive species in Africa.

"The sharing of information on similar experiences will help African forest health experts to quickly identify, understand and address problems related to invasive species in and beyond their region," Allard said.

Through FISNA, countries are already sharing information on the latest outbreaks of invasive species. For example, an insect pest, the blue gum chalcid, has recently been discovered in Kenya and Uganda damaging young eucalyptus trees and nursery seedlings. On the website it is noted that the pest has previously been recorded in Morocco, Iran, Israel and Italy.

Also, since 2001, the giant conifer aphid, a pest native to the eastern United States and Canada, has been recorded damaging pine tree plantations in Malawi. The web site shares information on how this can be controlled. Furthermore it shares information on how the spread of the cypress aphid, which has been harming cypresses and cedars in Africa since 1986, is being controlled.

"Once this regional website is linked to other existing regional networks on invasive species, it will become much easier to protect African forests from species that transcend national and regional boundaries," Allard said.

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