Millennium Post

ZSI forms cell to study impact of alien invasive species in India

Kolkata: The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has constituted a separate cell for comprehensive study of the impact of invasion of alien species (IAS) on the fauna and accordingly suggest remedial measures.
"We need an integrated multi-disciplinary research and development on IAS and evolving and implementing effective management strategies for those species as they have become a menace in India. We have to work out means for preventing such invasive aliens entering into India," said C Raghunathan, a scientist at ZSI.
ZSI is also recruiting research scholars who will be doing the ground work in this regard under the guidance of three leading ZSI scientists, including Raghunathan.
IAS will be emerging as the second largest threat to biodiversity across the world and also in India. It may be noted that controlling IAS and preventing the entry of new species is one of the 20 biodiversity targets that was ratified at AICHI in Japan. India had signed the treaty and both ZSI and BSI were signatory to that.
As per studies by scientists, 157 species of fauna have been identified so far to have invasive status, of which 99 are aquatic while the rest 58 are terrestrial. 31 exotic insects are affecting the aquatic system as well as agriculture.
"India is one of the mega-diversity countries of the world, representing 4 of the global biodiversity hotspots and many of these species have not yet been assessed properly. They are also impacting wildlife," said Kailash Chandra, director ZSI, Kolkata.
It may be mentioned that it is still not clear how many invasive plants, animal and microbial species are found in India. "The first priority is to prepare the list of IAS in India and then prioritise the IAS for their management. The magnitude of the prioritised invasive species needs to be mapped using remote sensing techniques and the data generated should be plotted on the GIS platform. Similar approaches should be followed for all other alien species for monitoring purpose," a ZSI scientist said.
ZSI recently organised a two-day conference on invasive alien species, along with the Botanical Survey of India and had sent a series of recommendations to the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change.
Among the recommendations, ZSI has stated that the Central government should implement integrated species-specific management strategies for invasive alien species involving different stakeholders.
"This will not only involve the removal or control of the invasive alien species but also ecological restoration of weed-free landscapes or degraded ecosystems to their natural states. It should be implemented through existing employment or livelihood generating schemes, operating at village level," Raghunathan said.
ZSI has also stressed upon effective coordination and linkages among different regulatory agencies and also among different Central government agencies that are involved in transportation and regulation.
"Existing institutions which are active in research and management on invasive species should be strengthened and designated as nodal centres for 'Invasive Species Research and Management'. Each state should have at least one nodal centre," a ZSI scientist said.

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