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33. During a special in-session seminar, the Commission focused on the threats posed by alien invasive species (plants, pests and diseases) and potential regional co-operation for dealing with the problems. The seminar was based on Secretariat Note FO:APFC/2002/4 and presentations by six resource speakers from throughout the region. The seminar was supported in part by the USDA Forest Service and the FAO-Netherlands Partnership Programme. The agenda of the in-session seminar is attached as Appendix D.

34. The seminar emphasised that problems associated with invasive species are escalating in frequency and impact as a result of increasing international trade, travel and transport. Unfortunately, most forest managers are not adequately aware of the problems related to invasive species or of appropriate safeguards. As a result, work in dealing with invasive species is at an embryonic stage in many member countries.

35. Delegates took note of the alarming economic, environmental and social impacts caused by invasive species. Significant economic costs are suffered from the loss of forest productivity and disruption of trade, and expenditures for monitoring, control, quarantine, prevention and research. The aggressive and disruptive nature of invasive species also causes the loss of native species and habitats. Social costs include the loss of aesthetic benefits and cultural values, disruption of employment and livelihoods, and human health impacts.

36. The Commission recommended that FAO support activities, including technical meetings, to increase awareness and understanding of the issues and threats associated with invasive species, develop appropriate measures for dealing with these threats, and identify additional information and research needs.

37. The seminar identified several goals in addressing the problems of invasive species, namely prevention, early detection, eradication (where possible) or control, and restoration. It was recognised that successful management of invasive species threats requires comprehensive strategies employing a wide array of measures. It encouraged countries to develop sound strategies for addressing threats from invasive species, including guidelines and regimes for deliberate introductions.

38. The Commission encouraged the development of regional invasive species strategies. It also urged member countries, FAO and other international organisations to collaborate in developing a regional invasive species information network with possible internet linkages and a website for information dissemination and sharing.

39. The Commission urged member countries to identify and share information on potentially invasive species and experiences in dealing with such species. The Commission urged member countries to use maximum caution in introducing species, and to rely on native species whenever such species are capable of achieving management objectives.

40. The Commission requested FAO and other international partners to strengthen capacities for risk assessment, diagnostics, monitoring and surveillance, interdiction, incursion planning, eradication and pest management.

41. Delegates were informed of the activities of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Global Invasive Species Programme and various national and international organisations in dealing with invasive species issues. The Commission recommended that member countries and FAO enhance collaboration with these organisations to take advantage of existing programmes and avoid duplication of efforts.

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