Australian Ecosystem Threatened Due to Warmer Temperatures

by Hannah Punitha on Jul 15 2008 1:31 PM

The WWF (Worldwide Fund for Nature) conservation group has warned that global warming will allow several exotic plants and animals, which can be referred to as pests, to invade vulnerable Australian ecosystems.

According to WWF's Invasive Species Policy Officer Julie Kirkwood, warmer temperatures will allow feral animals and invasive weeds to gain access to cooler and higher areas where they have not previously been able to exist.

"Exotic species that haven't been invasive in these areas before are likely to have a sudden competitive advantage in warmer temperatures," she said.

Kirkwood said that Professor Ross Garnaut's draft climate change report had identified that warmer temperatures would favour pest and weed species at the expense of native plants and animals.

This would ultimately add to the high cost of invasive species to the Australian economy, already in excess of 4 billion dollars, she said.

"The Garnaut report recognises that existing environmental stress factors such as invasive species need to be dealt with now to reduce the costs of climate change, and recommends the removal of introduced pest species as a key action to building this resilience," said Kirkwood.

"Rodents, pigs, cane toads, dogs, cats and rapacious exotic plant species such as lantana and gamba grass have caused numerous extinctions in Australia over the last 200 years and continue to devastate Australia's ecosystems," she added.

Kirkwood said that the Federal Government must fully fund plans to address the threat of rodents on islands and in other vulnerable areas, and ensure the national Weed Spread Prevention Plan was fully implemented.

"WWF is also calling on the Australian Government to close existing loopholes in quarantine laws that allow the importation of potentially devastating species," she said.