Forest invasive species – including pests, diseases, weeds and sometimes certain tree species – have become the focus of increasing attention in Asia and the Pacific. In recent years, accelerating trade in forest products and other products (such as wood packaging materials and exposed containers) that can act as vectors for forest pests and diseases have made countries in the region increasingly susceptible to the threat of invasive species.
A seminar at the nineteenth session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission in Ulan Bator, Mongolia in August 2002 highlighted the threats forest invasive species pose for the countries, economies and forests of the region. Building on that seminar, an Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Conference was convened in Kunming, China in August 2003. It was attended by more than 130 representatives from 20 countries.
The Kunming conference laid the foundations for the establishment of an Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network under the auspices of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission. The network was formally launched in April 2004, just prior to the twentieth session of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission in Nadi, Fiji. The network will share information on forest invasive species and facilitate access to expertise and resources, such as education and training facilities and courses.
As part of the network’s activities, a regional action plan for combating forest invasive species has been developed by representatives from around the region. The action plan calls for stocktaking of national activities, awareness raising, capacity building and information sharing. The Chinese Academy of Sciences has agreed to develop a network database to compile information on key forest pests in the region. The Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Species Network has already established a set of national focal points to coordinate work within countries, and is exploring the potential to appoint a network coordinator to facilitate the implementation of activities.