Exotic species cause losses of US$3 billion/year in Brazil – 03/01/2024 – Environment

Exotic species cause losses of US$3 billion/year in Brazil – 03/01/2024 – Environment


Species like the mosquito Aedes aegypti and the pine Pine elliottii they seem to have nothing in common. But, according to the 73 scientists who signed a new report released this Friday (1st), they share an important characteristic: both are invasive exotic species and are part of a group of 476 animals, plants or algae that occur in natural environments in the Brazil but which are not native to the country’s fauna or flora.

Biological invasions cause losses of at least US$3 billion per year to the Brazilian economy, according to the report published this Friday (1st) by the Brazilian Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (BPBES).

The document, which analyzes the results of several studies and scientific articles on the topic, highlights that the real damage could be much greater than estimated, as the calculation takes into account only 16 of the 476 invasive species identified in Brazilian territory.

“This is a very underestimated number. What scared us is that, even though there are few publications on the negative impacts of biological invasions in Brazil, the numbers we have already show a huge loss”, explains Mário Luis Orsi, one of the coordinators of the report and postgraduate professor in biological sciences at UEL (State University of Londrina).

Despite the billion-dollar loss, the lack of knowledge among the population and the government on the subject is still a barrier for those who have been fighting for years against biological invasions in the country.

This is the case of researcher Michele Dechoum, also coordinator of the study and professor in the ecology and zoology department at UFSC (Federal University of Santa Catarina). In his free time, Dechoum organizes volunteer efforts in the dunes of Florianópolis to remove invasive trees.

“Environmental education is very important in this case, because people need to get involved, they need to understand what biological invasion is to recognize that they are part of the problem, but also part of the solution”, says Dechoum.

In addition to public engagement, scientists also call for greater involvement from the private sector and public bodies. They argue that some sectors of the economy, such as aquaculture (fish production) and forestry (cultivation of forests to produce raw materials), need to act more responsibly to reduce environmental impacts.

The researchers also advocate the creation of a national list of biological invasions and a federal public policy for prevention and control, in addition to the involvement of more state governments — currently, only Bahia, Distrito Federal, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and São Paulo has official lists of invasive alien species.

A resident of Florianópolis, Dechoum says that a few weeks ago an environmental institution based in the city announced an action to distribute seedlings to celebrate a commemorative date. According to her, the organizers wanted to distribute to their guests a jackfruit seedling, which is an invasive exotic species in Santa Catarina.

“I was shocked and immediately went to check if the jackfruit tree was on the official list of exotic species in Santa Catarina, and that was the argument I used and that worked to convince them not to distribute this seedling”, says the teacher.

State lists are generally accompanied by legislation that regulates the presence of the listed species. However, these laws are not always enforced. An example is the legislation in Florianópolis, where several species of pine trees have been banned for more than ten years, but there is no inspection or fine for those who have these trees on their land.

The Aedes case

The damage caused by biological invasions is mainly linked to agricultural pests and species that are disease vectors, such as Aedes aegypti. The dengue mosquito causes enormous economic impacts and also transmits chikungunya, Zika and urban yellow fever.

When quantifying the economic costs of 16 of the main biological invasions, the researchers estimated an expenditure of at least US$105.3 billion over the last 35 years, which is equivalent to an average cost of US$3 billion per year . O Aedes aegypti It is one of the species that generated the greatest impact, according to the article: the loss of the dengue mosquito is estimated at US$ 10.5 billion between 1984 and 2019.

“Despite being a well-known disease, there is still a lack of recognition that dengue is the result of a biological invasion. In people’s minds, the mosquito is a species of forest that is coming to the cities. The other day I heard this argument in the supermarket, and I had to interrupt to say: no, guys, Aedes is of African origin”, recalls Mário Luis Orsi, from UEL.

“For me, this is a species that we always need to publicize that it is a biological invasion. It should be the flagship for educating the population, and it would be a very good example for people to understand the negative impact, because it is something very evident, there is no way to ignore it”, adds Orsi.


Source link