Officials, delegates, and participants of the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Conference 2019 come together to pose for a group photo.

Manila, Phillippines – The DENR-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) holds this week the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) R&D Conference 2019. From July 9-11, 2019, the Conference takes place at the Diamond Hotel Manila convening experts, researchers, advocates, dialogue partners, environment managers and other stakeholders of IAS from the Asia-Pacific Region.

The IAS Conference is an initiative of the DENR-ERDB under the International Commitment Fund (ICF) to promote R&D on the management and biosecurity measures of invasive alien species in the said region.

Invasive Alien Species (IAS) is one of the major threats to biodiversity worldwide and is viewed as a cause of extinction of endemic or native species in a particular country where they have been introduced. To some extent, this results in the bioinvasion of natural habitats and puts to risk the existence of indigenous flora and fauna. This brings to fore an emerging concept called biosecurity which is globally significant due to the risks that IAS pose to a country’s economy, environment, and human health. The country’s past experiences include the introduction of the American bullfrog and the golden apple snail which have displaced indigenous species in natural habitats.

In the message of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, delivered during the Opening Program by Assistant Secretary Ricardo L. Calderon, he expressed recognition of the importance of holding the IAS conference.

The Conference provides a forum for the exchange of research and development information and technologies on the status, control and management of invasive alien species. Considering the threats that IAS brings to biodiversity, this gathering hopes to develop scientifically-based methodologies for risk assessment as a basis for policy formulation across the Asia Pacific Region as wells as to identify major steps in developing regional action plan against biological invasion.

The Secretary’s message stressed DENR’s firm stand in “promoting convergence of R&D efforts for a sustainable region-wide management of IAS”. He also encouraged “continuous pursuit for research-driven strategies and policies to effectively manage and conserve biodiversity for the good of humankind”.

Through paper presentations and technical discussions, lists of introduced and invasive alien species (IAS) including their potential threats and/or impacts could be validated and verified within the region. Aside from these, part of the Conference is a tour of research institutions in Los Banos, Laguna.

This endeavour also serves as an avenue for enhancing partnership and joint research and development undertakings among Asia-Pacific partners in the management of invasive alien species.

Institutional speakers at the Conference were Ms. Pauline Carmel Joy Eje of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB); Dr. T.V. Sajeev of the Asia-Pacific Forest Invasive Alien Species (APFISN); Ms. Hong Twu Chan of the Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) – Regional Center, Malaysia; Dr. Anzar Khuroo of the IUCN-Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG); Assistant Secretary Ricardo L. Calderon of the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau; and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)-Philippines.

Four plenary talks were also delivered according to the subthemes of the Conference. These were as follows: Invasive plant alerts for countries in the Asia-Pacific Region by Dr. Kavileveettil Sankaran; Biological control as a forgotten tool in weed management by Dr. Michael D. Day of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland, Australia; Environmental governance and valuation imperatives in the Philippines by Dr. Rico C. Ancog of the University of the Philippines Los Banos; and Current status of freshwater invasive apple snails (Pomacea sp.) in ASEAN countries by Dr. Ravindra C. Joshi of the Center for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI)-Southeast Asia.

The countries represented in this event include India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Vietnam and the Philippines.