Posts Tagged ‘Professor Philip Hulme’

Alien pest incursions threaten New Zealand’s primary industries

New Zealand’s environment and primary industries are under threat from pests we don’t even know about yet, says Professor Philip Hulme of the Bio-Protection Research Centre, based at Lincoln University.

Professor Hulme was part of a large international collaboration of scientists who analysed 46,000 recorded sightings of invasive animal and plant species around the world. Their research* showed that one in every four new pest incursions were from species that had never before been recorded as being invasive.

“We looked at patterns over the last five centuries to see whether there was any evidence of a slowdown in the number of new pests and weeds emerging around the world, but there wasn’t,” said Professor Hulme.

“Just as many new pests are emerging now as in previous centuries.

“If we look at the pests and weeds already in New Zealand, most have come from Europe, Australia or North America, our traditional trade partners and sources of immigration. However, Asia is now becoming more important to both trade and immigration, and this is where many new pests and weeds appear to be coming from.”

Professor Hulme says we may be entering a new era for biosecurity as we face an increasing wave of unknown emerging pest species.

“We need to make sure our biosecurity system is sufficiently flexible and well-resourced to deal with unexpected incursions by species we probably will know nothing about,” says Professor Hulme.

“The responsibility rests with all of us: government, industry, the public, and every tourist who crosses our borders,” says Prof Hulme.

He urged everybody to be vigilant, understand the risks and take action in a way that minimises the chances of any new pest or disease crossing our borders.

*Seebens, H., Blackburn TM, Dyer EE, Genovesi P, Hulme PE et al. (2018): Global rise in emerging alien species results from increased accessibility of new source pools. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1719429115

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Biosecurity warning: NZ needs to be alert as global pest threat grows

Armed with new research showing pests are continuing to spread around the world, a biosecurity expert is sounding a warning for New Zealand to continue to be vigilant about guarding its borders.

Professor Philip Hulme, of the Bio-Protection Centre at Lincoln University, is a senior author on the study which shows international efforts to prevent the entry and spread of pests, weeds, and diseases have not been sufficient to keep up with the pace of globalisation, and we can certainly expect more invasions in the future.

It revealed the number of invasive species worldwide has been increasing over the last 200 years with no sign of slowing down. At a global scale, this means that there are almost two new pest incursions somewhere in the world every day.

New Zealand needs to ensure biosecurity is right at the top of the business and tourism agenda, Professor Hulme says.

“As a country with a unique flora and fauna as well as strong economic dependence of agriculture, it is vital for New Zealand to have stringent and robust biosecurity policies.

“I’m not sure this message gets through enough to our millions of tourists, the airlines, or importers,” he says.

The study, involving an international team of 45 scientists, found increases in invasive species were associated with human activities, particularly the expansion of agriculture, horticulture and global trade.

While new species can boost diversity in an area, they can also have detrimental impacts on the native ecosystem, economy, environment and human health. In some cases, they can even bring about the extinction of native species.

Among the positives, New Zealand was one of the few countries shown to have fewer records of weed incursions in the last few decades.

“The success at reducing weed incursions is largely down to New Zealand implementing a strict biosecurity policy in 1993,” says Professor Hulme, “as such, our biosecurity systems can be viewed as a global example of best practice.”

Altogether, the researchers compiled more than 45,000 records of about 17,000 different species worldwide, including plants, birds, insects, mammals, fishes, fungi, algae and molluscs. Getting this long-term data is difficult and these numbers are likely to underestimate the full extent of species incursions, Professor Hulme says.

The study’s findings highlight the continued need for improvements in national legislation and international agreements to help mitigate invasions and keep up with impacts from increasing globalisation.

“New Zealand is already leading the way and hopefully through Biosecurity 2025, New Zealand is on the road to futureproofing the system to meet increasing global trade and travel that present continual new challenges,” says Professor Hulme.

Seebens et al (2016). No saturation in the accumulation of alien species worldwide. Nature Communications DOI: 101.1038/ncomms14435 (HERE)