Eminent scientists said the country should draw an effective strategy in the next three years to control the menace of Invasive Alien Species (IAS), a potential threat to biodiversity.
The view emerged at a two-day national conference attended by scientists and experts from across the country who assessed the current status of the IAS and its effect on biodiversity.
The IAS are plants, animals or organisms which are introduced to regions outside their native ecosystems and which may cause ecological or economic harm, or adversely affect human health.
The conference was inaugurated by Joint Secretary Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Manju Pandey and was jointly organised by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI).
In the meeting, the impact of biological invasion on ecosystems, and the development of a national strategy on IAS management would be discussed besides its impact on food-web by altering the prey and predator ratio.
"By 2020, we (India) have to come out with a strategy on how to control the IAS. Some are dangerous and some are not dangerous. But the looming threat of invasive species is there not only for India but for the entire world," Botanical Survey of India (BSI) Additional Director PV Prasanna said.
Incidentally, India had signed an agreement giving its nod to implement the Aichi Biodiversity Targets to be achieved by the end of this decade.
"The agreement says that by 2020, all invasive alien species and their pathways are to be identified. Priority species are to be controlled and eradicated and measures are to be put in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment," ZSI director Kailash Chandra said.
"The IAS is second largest threat to biodiversity in the world. We have to control the invasive species and prevent them from entering the country. This will wreak havoc if not controlled. Science along with management coupled with legal backing can help to control it. The entire world is looking into it and India has to take the lead," he said.
He said there are four biodiversity hotspots in India with around 47,000 species of plants and more than 1.6 lakh species of animals.
"Invasive alien species is the second most serious problem after global warming. There are many species of which we have no idea about their transportation and transmission. Some exotic species are also transported from one country to another country," Chandra said.
When asked whether globalisation was another reason behind it, the ZSI director told PTI on the sidelines "It's one of the major reason behind invasive alien species. E- commerce has advanced in a big way. Even these days insects are transported from one continent to another through courier services."
Around 157 invasive alien species of fauna were recorded and out of which 99 per cent were from the marine area, Chandra said adding that coral reef ecosystems in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Goa and Karnataka were under threat.
Pointing out the significance of taxonomy in identifying and managing the IAS, CR Babu, Centre for Environmental Management of Degraded Ecosystems, University of Delhi, stressed on the utilisation and sustainable use of the present resources.