The negative impacts of plant invasions

There has been an increase in plant invasions over the last two decades. Plant invasions contribute to global biodiversity loss and the homogenization of biological systems worldwide and are a growing concern for the forest sector. The forest sector uses many tree species for agroforestry, commercial forestry, and desertification control, which are non-native or alien to the area. Invasive alien species can degrade the quality of tree species, which would lessen the wood quality, and impact the local biodiversity that the forest provides for.  

Invasive alien species have been responsible for the degradation of ecosystems, displacing native plants and negatively impacting human health.  

Many species of trees and plants have been introduced outside of their native ranges for the purpose of ornamentals for gardening. One of these, that has been inadvertently introduced to the Caribbean region for the purpose of ornamental gardening, is the Antigonon leptopus also known as the coral vine or coral creeper. It is an invasive plant, native to Mexico. This invasive vine can grow in any soil type, is relatively drought tolerant and is aggressive. It outcompetes understory plants, smothers native trees and alters fire regimes. It is difficult to control because of its many tuberous roots that enable vegetative propagation. Look for more tagged species in our policy brief ‘Invasive Species Threaten Livelihoods and Valuable Biodiversity in the Caribbean’. 

Plant invasions are unavoidable with growing globalization. Globalization has created new travel and trade routes and made travel more popular, which has accelerated the spread and introduction of new invasive alien species into sectors like Agriculture. Through transport commodities like cargo or air, plant pathogens, weed seeds, larval or adult arthropods, and other vertebrate or invertebrate species can be transported. Other contaminated vectors can include coal, gravel, sand, or metal ores which might contain plant pathogens. It is also a source of forest diseases and pests. 

In the Caribbean, several invasive alien species projects have been implemented regionally. Currently, an environmental trust fund is being considered for the purpose of biosecurity. The environmental trust fund is an investment vehicle to help mobilize, blend, oversee and allocate financial resources for environmental purposes. This independent legal entity would be able to facilitate rigorous project management, solid monitoring and evaluation, strategic focus, and high levels of accountability and transparency, once executed. Read more about the environment trust fund here in our policy brief ‘A Sustainable Trust Fund for Managing Invasive Alien Species in the Caribbean’. 


Policy Brief – A Sustainable Trust Fund for Managing Invasive Alien Species in the Caribbean 

Policy Brief – Invasive Species Threaten Livelihoods and Valuable Biodiversity in the Caribbean 

Frontiersin – Editorial: Global Changes and Plant Invasions 

FAO – Forest invasive species