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Invasive alien species and the IPPC: the role of CAB International

Roger Day

CAB International Africa Regional Centre, P.O. Box 633-00621, Nairobi, Kenya; e-mail:


As an intergovernmental organization whose member countries are contracting parties to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), CAB International (CABI) is an appropriate international organization to provide assistance in implementation of the convention (as in IPPC Article XX). CABI's role is to support and facilitate, with particular emphasis on the needs of developing countries. Five areas of activity are described: (1) publication of information products, including books, journals, bibliographic databases and the Crop Protection Compendium, the latter now including a pest risk analysis module and being substantially expanded in response to demand for more information on invasive species and forest and timber pests; (2) taxonomy, including a plant health clinic for developing countries, development of multi-access keys, molecular detection methods and training; (3) networking through formal networks such as BioNET-INTERNATIONAL, support to regional bodies such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and coordination of regional and international projects (e.g. removing barriers to invasive plant management in Africa); (4) information provision in support of standard setting, recent examples being the study on the application of the third international standard for phytosanitary measures (ISPM 3: Code of conduct for the import and release of exotic biological control agents), an overview of standard-setting procedures in international bodies and inputs to IPPC working groups; (5) the Global Invasive Species Programme, which includes a working group on global information exchange and which is an international focal point for information dissemination under the Convention on Biological Diversity.


CAB International (CABI) is an intergovernmental, not-for-profit organization owned and run by its member governments (currently 40). It is international, with centres and Offices in nine countries worldwide. CABI's mission is to improve human welfare through the generation, dissemination and application of scientific knowledge in support of sustainable development. Registered with the United Nations, it originated over 90 years ago when entomologists were sent to Africa to study the insects injurious to men, animals and crops. The Bulletin of Entomological Research was founded soon afterwards to disseminate the findings and is still one of CABI's leading journals. Thus from its inception CABI has been involved with information sharing and plant protection.

International Plant Protection Convention


Technical assistance

"The contracting parties agree to promote the provision of technical assistance to contracting parties, especially those that are developing contracting parties, either bilaterally or through the appropriate international organizations, with the objective of facilitating the implementation of this Convention."

Most of CABI's member countries are contracting parties to the International Plant Protection Convention, so CABI is an appropriate international organization to provide assistance in implementation of the convention, as described in IPPC Article XX concerning technical assistance (see box). CABI's role is to support and facilitate, with particular emphasis on developing countries. This paper describes five areas in which CABI is involved in information exchange in relation to invasive alien species and the IPPC.

Development and publication of information products

CABI's information products include books and journals, bibliographic databases and Internet portals, and the Compendium programme.

Books and journals

CABI produces about 60 new books a year, covering a range of topics including invasive alien species and phytosanitary systems. Recent titles of relevance are:

Weber, E. 2003. Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds. Wallingford, UK, CABI Publishing. 560 pp.

This book provides information on around 450 of the major invasive plant species worldwide.

Ebbels, D.L. 2003. Principles of plant health and quarantine. Wallingford, UK, CABI Publishing. x + 302 pp.

This covers international phytosanitary controls and national phytosanitary systems.

Primary journals published include Seed Science Research and the Bulletin of Entomological Research, as well as review journals, such as Biocontrol News and Information. With assistance from the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization, CABI produces two map series, Distribution maps of plant pests (arthropods) and Distribution maps of plant diseases. Some 36 new or revised maps are published each year. Over 800 diseases and over 600 arthropods have been mapped since the series began.

Bibliographic databases and portals

CABI maintains a bibliographic database (CAB Abstracts) covering a wide range of topics in agriculture, natural resource management and rural development which is accessible through various products. The database comprises over 4 million records; over 7 000 journals and technical report series are scanned each year, from which around 180 000 records are added to the database. CABI offers "CAB Direct" to provide Internet access to the entire database.

Many abstract journals are published on specific topics selected from the database. The Review of Agricultural Entomology and the Review of Plant Pathology, for example, are both printed monthly, each with about 1 000 new abstracts every month. The abstract journals are also available on the Internet.

Thematic subsets of the database are also available on CD-ROM, as well as on the Internet. The Plant Protection Database (formerly known as CABPESTCD) covers all aspects of crop protection: plant diseases, nematodes, arthropods, weeds and vertebrates. The CD-ROM is updated quarterly and contains nearly 800 000 records from 1973 onwards.

Subsets of the full database are also accessible through a number of Internet portals. As well as providing free online searching capability, the portals provide topical articles of interest and other information. One such portal, ICMFocus (available at, concerns integrated crop management including pest management.

Compendium programme

CABI is developing a range of compendia, encyclopaedic multimedia tools that bring together scientific information from diverse sources to give in-depth coverage of a particular topic. The compendia are available on CD and the Internet, and the development of each is sponsored by a development consortium. The purchase price provides for regular updating, with special discount rates for a large number of developing and transition countries. Currently there are three compendia: on animal health and production, forestry and crop protection. A compendium on aquaculture is due to be published in 2005 and another on coffee is being planned.

Crop Protection Compendium

The Crop Protection Compendium (CPC) contains detailed information on nearly 2 000 pests and natural enemies, with less detail for an additional 10 000 species. 125 000 abstracts of key references are included, together with information on major crops, including the FAO crop production data. The CPC also includes crop loss data, a taxonomic framework and identification keys and a phytosanitary decision-support module (described below). Around 6 800 images are included, which can be used together with the text to create extension or other materials quickly and easily.

The CPC contains information commissioned from over 1 100 experts in 75 countries. Key partners providing data for the CPC are EPPO, FAO, Iowa State University, University of Bonn and Plant Resources of South-East Asia. Around 50 organizations from developing and developed countries comprise the consortium that has funded and guided the development of the CPC.

At the heart of the CPC are the data sheets for individual pests, natural enemies and crops. The "cover page" for a species contains basic information, a photograph and a world distribution map, but additional information is available on topics such as names and taxonomy, host range, distribution, biology and ecology, natural enemies, economic impact, symptoms, morphology, similarities with other species, inspection and detection, and control. References, regional distribution maps and additional images are provided. Soft linking allows any piece of text to be highlighted and a search made. For example, the information on pest biology might contain a reference; highlighting and clicking on the reference brings up the abstract in a separate window.

A diagnostic search can be conducted by specifying whatever information is available about a specimen, such as where it was found, on what host, what the symptoms were, what part of the host was affected. Based on the information provided, a list of possible species fitting the description is provided. This is not an authoritative identification, but provides a very useful guide to field workers and other staff who do not have access to a taxonomist and need to diagnose a problem.

Pest risk analysis using the CPC

A recent addition to the CPC is a pest risk analysis module. As well as providing some background readings and links to the IPPC and other useful Web sites, the module can guide a user through a pest risk analysis following the international standard for phytosanitary measures ISPM 11 (now ISPM 11 [2004]: Pest risk analysis for quarantine pests, including analysis of environmental risks and living modified organisms). The pest risk analysis can be either pest or pathway (commodity) initiated. If pathway initiated, the countries of export and import must be specified, along with the commodity. The module then searches the pest database and draws up two lists of pests. One list is of those species associated with the commodity and recorded as present in the exporting country but not in the importing country; the other list is of those pests associated with the commodity but already present in both countries. The user can manually change which list a pest appears in if more accurate information is available. For each of the pests possibly requiring phytosanitary measures, the user is then guided through the risk assessment stage; assessing the likelihood of the pest entering the PRA area, establishing and spreading, and the potential economic consequences. Each component has a number of subcomponents for consideration by the user, but in all cases the assessment is made by the user, not by the program (figure 1).

Fig. 1: Example screen from the pest risk analysis module; subcomponents for the likelihood of pest entry, part of risk assessment.

The user can specify the scale used for the assessment and notes can be added to the assessment of each component. Access to the pest data sheet is available for assisting the user to make the assessment. At the conclusion of the risk assessment stage the overall risk is evaluated by the user and whether or not phytosanitary measures are required.

For each pest assessed as presenting an unacceptable level of risk, a list of possible risk management options is presented. Again, the program does not make any assessment; rather it acts as a guide, providing a logical procedure for the user to make the analysis and document their findings. At the conclusion a PRA report can be produced, the user selecting what components of the pest risk analysis should be included.

CPC enhancements

The CPC is updated annually and is currently undergoing major enhancements in two areas. First, the invasive species content is being expanded, with the addition of over 200 species, including over 100 woody invasive alien species. The weed key is being revised and new library documents and abstracts added. Second, over 150 forest and timber pests are being added including those of concern in wood packaging, the topic of ISPM 15: Guidelines for regulating wood packaging material in international trade. Current forest pest data sheets are being revised and 100 data sheets from the forestry compendium on trees of importance in international trade (living, timber, or wood packaging) are being added. Both sets of enhancements are being developed over an 18-month period and should be ready for inclusion in the 2004 edition of the CPC.

Taxonomy and pest identification

Knowing the identity of organisms is key information in many situations, including management of invasive species and implementation of the ISPMs. CABI has long been involved in promoting the availability of taxonomic and pest identity information through various channels. CABI runs a global plant clinic in collaboration with other organizations ( providing free identifications for a number of developing countries. An important resource supporting authoritative identifications is a reference collection of almost half a million fungi and bacteria maintained at CABI's UK centre.

CABI also promotes the availability of taxonomic information by running training courses (including recent ones with FAO and IPPC) and developing user-friendly identification keys. CABI is involved in the development of novel pest identification methods based on molecular techniques, particularly beneficial for use during inspection of perishable goods.

Networking and coordination

As an intergovernmental organization, CABI is well suited to regional and global networking and coordination, activities which promote the exchange of information. One example is BioNET-INTERNATIONAL, described previously (chapter 32), which CABI assisted with founding. The BioNET secretariat is hosted by CABI UK, and the BioNET local network for Southeast Asia is coordinated out of CABI's South-East Asia Regional Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

CABI also provides support to regional organizations and networks. CABI's Africa Regional Centre hosts the Coffee Research Network for East and Central Africa and provides the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) with technical support on sanitary and phytosanitary issues.

At the project level CABI coordinates many multicountry activities involving information exchange. In Africa a project entitled "Removing Barriers to Invasive Plant Management in Africa" has recently commenced with funding from the Global Environment Facility, with activities in Ethiopia, Ghana, Uganda and Zambia. Four main areas have been initially identified for attention:

Support for standard setting

The setting of standards is central to the IPPC and the work of the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures, and CABI is in a position to promote information exchange in support of the process of standard setting.

CABI has been able to provide briefing papers and inputs to the technical working groups of the ICPM, including those directed by the Standards Committee. Recent contributions have been made to the revision of ISPM 11 in relation to risk analysis of environmental hazards and to the development of the supplement on risk analysis for living modified organisms (now part of ISPM 11 [2004]), as well as to the preliminary stages of drafting a standard on efficacy of measures. Recently a comparison of standard-setting procedures in several international standard-setting organizations was undertaken to provide information for the debate on possible fast-track mechanisms for standard setting.

Part of the standard-setting process is regional consultations, at which draft standards are discussed and regional views articulated, to supplement the comments provide by individual countries. With its expertise on invasive alien species, CABI took part in the consultations in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean in 2002 to provide information and case studies to illuminate the discussion on the draft revision of ISPM 11, concerning "environmental" pests.

CABI has also undertaken a study on the application of ISPM 3: Code of conduct for the import and release of exotic biological control agents, which provides not only useful information for possible review of that standard but also an insight into the implementation of ISPMs in developing countries. The study is reported in chapter 24.

Global Invasive Species Programme

In 1997, the Global Invasive Species Programme was founded by CABI, the World Conservation Union and the Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment. GISP's mission is "to conserve biodiversity and sustain human livelihoods by minimizing the spread and impact of invasive alien species". GISP provides a framework for international cooperation and capacity building, and during its Phase I (1997 - 2000) catalysed international efforts to begin addressing the invasive alien species problem through a global partnership network. Some outputs of GISP Phase I in the form of publications and information sources are listed below:

Baskin, Y. 2002. A plague of rats and rubbervines: the growing threat of species invasions. Washington, D.C., USA, Shearwater Books/Island Press. 330 pp.

Lowe, S.J., Browne, M., Boudjelas, S. & De Poorter, M. 2000. 100 of the world's worst invasive alien species: A selection from the Global Invasive Species Database. Auckland, New Zealand, IUCN/IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG). 12 pp.

McNeely, J.A., ed. 2001. The great reshuffling: human dimensions of invasive alien species. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK, IUCN. 242 pp.

McNeely, J.A., Mooney, H.A., Neville, L.E., Schei, P.J. & Waage, J.K., eds. 2001. A global strategy on invasive alien species. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK, IUCN. x + 50 pp.

Mooney, H.A. & Hobbs, R.J., eds. 2000. Invasive species in a changing world. Washington, D.C., USA, Island Press. 384 pp.

Perrings, C., Williamson, M. & Dalmazzone, S., eds. 2000. The economics of biological invasions. Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar Publishers. 249 pp.

Shine, C, Williams, N. & Gündling, L. 2000. A guide to designing legal and institutional frameworks on alien invasive species. IUCN Environmental Policy and Law Paper No. 40. Gland, Switzerland, Cambridge and Bonn, IUCN. xvi + 138 pp.

Wittenberg, R., Cock, M.J.W., eds. 2001. Invasive alien species: a toolkit of best prevention and management practices. Wallingford, Oxon, UK, CAB International. xvii + 228 pp.

A further output is the Global Invasive Species Database, coordinated by IUCN/Invasive Species Specialist Group) at

GISP has a ten-point global strategy, which includes both information sharing and public awareness (see box).

The ten points of the GISP global strategy

1. Build management capacity
2. Build research capacity
3. Promote sharing of information
4. Develop economic policies and tools
5. Strengthen national, regional and international legal and institutional frameworks
6. Institute a system of environmental risk analysis
7. Build public awareness and engagement
8. Prepare national strategies and plans
9. Build invasive alien species issues into global change initiatives
10. Promote international cooperation.

In 2000, the Fifth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity requested GISP to actively support the scientific and technical aspects of the CBD Secretariat and the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice. Since then, there has been close cooperation. In 2001, a Memorandum of Cooperation was established between GISP and the CBD's clearing house mechanism making GISP the thematic focal point on invasive alien species under the CBD. In 2002, COP decision VI/23[8]: Alien species that threaten ecosystems, habitats or species made frequent reference to GISP, acknowledging the technical advice it had provided SBSTTA, welcoming it as the IAS thematic focal point, welcoming GISP Phase II and requesting continuing cooperation and support for GISP.

GISP Phase II has commenced and a secretariat has been established in South Africa responsible to an executive board. The GISP "engine" comprises six working groups, each supported by a member of the GISP secretariat. The working groups are:

Thus, in the six years of GISP's existence, it has provided an important avenue for information sharing, and the implementation plan for Phase II continues to give information sharing a high priority.

[8] CBD note: One representative entered a formal objection during the process leading to the adoption of this decision (decision VI/23) and underlined that he did not believe that the Conference of the Parties could legitimately adopt a motion or a text with a formal objection in place. A few representatives expressed reservations regarding the procedure leading to the adoption of this decision (see UNEP/CBD/COP/6/20, paragraphs 294 - 324).

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