Through our work with donors and partners, we are helping to manage the spread of invasive species, a problem that costs the world almost 5% of global gross domestic product or an estimated US$1.4 trillion per year
Millions of the world’s most vulnerable people face problems with invasive weeds, insects, plant diseases and animals, which fundamentally threaten the economic growth supported by sustainable development.
Invasive species disproportionately affect vulnerable communities in poor rural areas, especially in developing countries, which depend on natural resources, healthy ecosystems, trade and tourism for their livelihoods.
Recognising the urgent need for action to protect development and economic growth, we are tackling invasive species around the world. Through a range of projects, knowledge tools and our Action on Invasives programme, we help protect livelihoods and the environment.
We have worked on invasive species for over 100 years, developing practical ways of tackling the biggest threats. Our scientists are world leaders in biocontrol research – an approach that uses invasive species’ natural enemies, like insects, to control their spread.
We produce a range of dedicated knowledge tools on invasive species. These include information on how to prevent the spread of invasive species, how to detect outbreaks and best practice solutions for controlling invasives.
Our invasive species expertise in more detail
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Tree of heaven, Ailanthus altissima, is a deciduous tree native to north-east and central China and Taiwan. It was brought to Europe and North America as an ornamental, but became invasive and is now an invasive species of concern in many countries, including Canada. Once established, tree of heaven is difficult to control, with mechanical and chemical options being limited and expensive. Since 2020, CABI has been working with partners to coordinate options for biological control of tree of heaven in Canada.
Parrot feather, Myriophyllum aquaticum, is a very popular garden and ornamental plant and has a long history of invasion worldwide. It was first recorded in Canada in 1980 from British Columbia and has since been recorded in the Lower Mainland and in the USA. Parrot feather forms dense impenetrable mats which affect stream flow, resulting in reduced native species’ richness at local scales, reduced water quality and habitat quality for fish and wildlife, and impacts on human activities. Due to the negative impacts, management of this species is required and a sustainable option is biological control. A biological control programme against parrot feather is already well-developed in South Africa and this project aims to investigate the potential for use in Canada.
St Helena’s endemic trees and insects are under threat, possibly due to introduced pathogens or changes to the range of endemic pathogens due to climate change. This project will survey and identify pathogens associated with tree death (including nursery-raised stock), and insect populations. Additionally, crop diseases will be surveyed and their management assessed. Methods developed through CABI’s Plantwise initiative will build capacity in diagnostics and management across all sectors, supporting growers, conservationists, and foresters. This will prevent further deterioration of the endemic ecosystem, increase food production and reduce the necessity to import food.
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