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Most nations have an immigration policy to prevent criminals from entering.
Biosecurity is their policy to prevent unwanted pests from entering a country.
Island nations like New Zealand, are particularly active in this field
because of economic and environmental reasons.
The word biosecurity is a new word:
biosecurity (L: bios=life; se-=apart/
without ; cura=care; securus=carefree/ untroubled; securitas=
freedom from anxiety/ feeling of security) the safety and safeguarding
of endemic life. The protection of native wildlife.
In the light of people's intensive desires to change
their environments, to have gardens with exotic plants, to be free to travel
to and from any place in the world, and to bring back any form of animate
or inanimate object, biosecurity is an up-hill battle. Most people don't
seem to realise how much they depend on biosecurity. Biosecurity aims to
prevent the introduction of the following:
livestock diseases: livestock diseases like
foot-and-mouth, BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis, mad-cow disease),
tuberculosis and others can have far-reaching consequences to countries
which are still without:
human health: disease can threaten human health.
economic loss: once a disease takes hold,
expensive measures must be taken to contain and eradicate it.
economic advantage: countries without animal
diseases have an enormous economic advantage because their meats and animal
products can be exported freely to all other nations.
invasive plant species (pest plants): some
introduced species are invasive, competing successfully with native species
and displacing them. Many decorative plants, once thought harmless, have
escaped from gardens and have become invasive species. They are changing
the natural balance profoundly, affecting all other species.
invasive animal species (pest animals):
exotic animal species are introduced for the thrill of hunting, for pets
and for zoos. Some have become highly invasive, such as deer, possum and
rabbit. Many bird species have become invasive too.
plant pests: plant diseases like fungi and
various forms of rot, as well as harmful insects, have major economic effects
on the cultivation of crops. Where previously the use of pesticides was
not necessary, they have become indispensable, resulting in environmental
damage and loss of economic advantage.
animal pests: predators like dogs, cats, stoats
and rats have been introduced, causing mayhem to native wildlife which
evolved without these. In New Zealand, many birds are flightless and they
are easy prey for exotic predators.
Some people think that by introducing exotic animals,
biodiversity is served, but this is not so. Introduced (exotic)
species do not increase biodiversity but compete with indigenous species,
displacing and threatening these. In the end the less aggressive species
die out. Eradication of introduced species has been spectacularly unsuccessful,
and controlling them is costing more each year. How much cost and trouble
could have been saved by simple prevention?
Biosecurity can involve the following activities:
guarding the borders: inspecting goods from overseas with sniffer
dogs. Tracking suspected shipments. Quarantine facilities for legally imported
species and varieties, stock and pets.
operating overseas: working with overseas product suppliers to prevent
accidents. Pest control enforcement in countries who supply to us. Learning
about pests in their natural environments. Learning about their natural
monitoring pests: early detection of introduced diseases or pests,
can lead to successful eradication. Monitoring the spread of pests to other
nations can help being prepared.
emergency operations: large-scale response to the earliest warnings,
by containing the pest and by eradicating infected animals or plants. Integrated
Pest Control uses all methods at the same time, such as chemical sprays,
and biological control methods.
fighting domestic diseases: animal diseases and plant pests which
have established themselves are controlled by establishing quarantine areas
and by preventing agricultural products to leave such areas. Flocks and
farmers can be certified. Gradually, over time, a disease can be controlled
or eradicated altogether. A disease-free country is able to export goods
more freely to other disease-free countries.
controlling wildlife damage: preventing inappropriate human activity
(pest-activity). Preventing livestock from natural places.
protecting endangered species: checking for the exportation and
importation of threatened species at borders.
enhancing animal care: enhancing the care of domestic stock and
pets to prevent diseases, which could spread to livestock or wildlife.
safety from biotechnology: being involved with the testing of genetically
altered species, in order to ascertain their safety to humans and the environment.
investigation and enforcement: having teams of experts able to investigate
situations and having the laws to enforce compliance where needed.
education: making sure people know what is expected and how they
can co-operate. The help of many is needed to make biosecurity successful.
Although biosecurity operations are in place in all countries, the risk
of new pests taking a foothold is increasing, due to the following circumstances:
freedom of movement: people travel to and from any destination,
bringing with them the risk of unwelcome hitchhikers. Air planes have made
travelling fast, enhancing the survival of pests.
increased traffic: the number of passengers transported has been
increasing very rapidly over the past 50 years, and so does the risk for
free trade: barriers to trade have been removed, resulting in a
proliferation of importers taking new opportunities. The lust for profit
endangers the health of nations.
fossil energy: lavish use of energy has warmed cities such that
pests, which would otherwise have been eradicated by winter, can survive.
global warming: global changes in climate will enable exotic species
to establish themselves in new places.
f970534: the Australian possum, under threat in its native
country, has been introduced into New Zealand, where it has become an invasive
pest, spreading disease (tuberculosis), killing native trees and eating
the eggs of native birds. They are attracted to the warmth of the tar-seal
by night, where they get killed by traffic.
f981617: The control of invasive species has become an on-going
effort, but it is not quite sure who is winning. Eradicating one predator
(stoat), leads to an increase in another (rats), or forcing it to predate
on other species. Prevention cannot be stressed enough!
As shown in this article and that on resource management,
and also touched in science, technology
and human nature, we have placed some formidable obstacles in the way
of conservation and the protection of biodiversity. Lasting solutions must
be found by changing human behaviour and curtailing freedom somewhat. But
here are the classical solutions:
CITES: (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species)
the classical approach is to put endangered species on the endangered species
list, administered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation
of Nature). CITES is an international agreement, which is effective by
banning international trade in the listed species or their products (tiger
hides, ivory, coral, shells, whale meat, rhinocerus horn, etc.). www.cites.org.
It has been very successful.
Red Data Books: every country has a red data book listing the threatened
species and classifying them according to criticality. It serves to make
politicians aware that resources are needed to take action.
economic incentives and disincentives: fines and subsidies can change
human behaviour, because much of what they do is motivated by economic
reasons (making a living, making money). Subsidies are given for not doing
harmful things, like building on coastal land, for not overharvesting,
for not cultivating certain lands, etc. Fines work for doing harmful things,
like all kinds of pollution and discharges.
1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro produced the Convention on
Biological Diversity (see www.biodiv.org)
While past conservation efforts were aimed at protecting particular species
and habitats, the Convention recognises that ecosystems, species and genes
be used for the benefit of humans. However, this should be done in
a way and at a rate that does not lead to the long-term decline of biological
diversity. The Convention aims to achieve:
The conservation of biodiversity:
Sustainable use of the components of biodiversity:
Sharing the benefits arising from the commercial and other utilization
genetic resources in a fair and equitable way:
In particular, it recommends the following actions:
Identifying and monitoring the important components of biological
diversity that need to be conserved and used sustainably.
Establishing protected areas to conserve biological diversity
while promoting environmentally sound development around these areas.
Rehabilitating and restoring degraded ecosystems and promoting
the recovery of threatened species in collaboration with local residents.
Respecting, preserving and maintaining traditional knowledge
of the sustainable use of biological diversity with the involvement of
indigenous peoples and local communities.
Preventing the introduction of, controlling, and eradicating
alien species that could threaten ecosystems, habitats or species.
Controlling the risks posed by organisms modified by biotechnology.
Promoting public participation, particularly when it comes
to assessing the environmental impacts of development projects that threaten
Educating people and raising awareness about the importance
of biological diversity and the need to conserve it.
Reporting on how each country is meeting its biodiversity
After ten years of operation, it defines the road forward as:
Meeting the increasing demand for biological resources caused
by population growth and increased consumption, while considering the long-term
consequences of our actions.
Increasing our capacity to document and understand biodiversity,
its value, and threats to it.
Building adequate expertise and experience in biodiversity
Improving policies, legislation, guidelines, and fiscal measures
for regulating the use of biodiversity.
Adopting incentives to promote more sustainable forms of
Promoting trade rules and practices that foster sustainable
use of biodiversity.
Strengthening coordination within governments, and between
governments and stakeholders.
Securing adequate financial resources for conservation and
sustainable use, from both national and international sources.
Making better use of technology.
Building political support for the changes necessary to ensure
biodiversity conservation and sustainable use.
Improving education and public awareness about the value
In the article on conservation, we'll discuss the many methods of
saving wildlife and their habitats. At this point, however, we would like
to comment that human-induced extinctions (reductions in biodiversity)
are real and as large as expected from the amount of habitat destroyed
or changed. This is likely to continue, as will be the spread of alien
species and human use of the biosphere. Between 1950 and 2000, human population
doubled and the world economy grew five-fold. These actions are not compatible
with conservation and the protection of biodiversity. Our efforts to save
biodiversity are thus destined to remain token gestures and feel-good decisions,
characterised by doing too little too late, while being unable to address
the real causes.
f971031: marine tropical reef species such as these starfish
and shells, are traded for collectors. But in order to satisfy demand,
and for the best quality, these animals are caught alive. It does not take
long before the reef's supply is exhausted, and its natural balance upset.
f003900: a female seahorse (Hippocampus abdominalis)
attached to a seaweed (Carpophyllum flexuosum) in a sheltered harbour
of New Zealand. These fragile animals are hunted with fervour for use in
Traditional Eastern Medicine. Simply because some people falsely believe
in the medicinal properties of these cute animals, they may become
McNeely, J A (1988):
Economics and biodiversity.
IUCN, Gland Switzerland.