Alien invasive species impact, and will continue to impact forests and the forest sector. The impact will be felt not only at the biological level, through technical responses to invasiveness, but also at policy, regulatory and trade levels. While the forest sector has long been considered a “victim”, there is growing evidence of and attention to its contribution to invasiveness.
A major part of the solution to the problem of alien invasive species will come from local and national actions with regards to early warning systems, eradication and control attempts as well as increased awareness and political pressure (Mooney and Hobbs, 2000). The other part of the solution requires bilateral, regional and international efforts, since the issue of alien invasive species is global in scope. Numerous international and regional programmes and instruments, binding and nonbinding, have been developed to address the problem of alien invasive species, some with direct or indirect implications for forests and the forest sector (Annex 3). In order to reduce the impacts of alien invasive species on the forest sector, in particular, it has been recommended that the issue be better integrated into existing sustainable forestry frameworks such as the Montréal Process and forest certification programmes (Chornesky et al., 2005).
An interdisciplinary approach is needed to fully understand, prevent and reduce the harmful effects of alien invasive species – one that incorporates biological, ecological and social sciences, economics, policy analysis, decision sciences, informatics and engineering (Mooney and Hobbs, 2000; FAO, 2003; Chornesky et al., 2005).
Clearly, alien invasive species are serious threats to forests and the forest sector. It is also clear that introduced species have many positive impacts on the forest sector and to sustainable development in general. Such conflicts of interest require a balanced analysis of the costs and benefits of the introduction of alien species which will help strengthen policy and management decisions, in particular those dealing with international trade and pest suppression efforts (de Wit, Crookes and van Wilgen 2001; Chornesky et al., 2005).