Samoa is a beautiful country known to all by its diverse natural environment. According to Samoa’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2001, Samoa’s species biodiversity is among the richest and most varied of the Polynesian islands. It contains approximately 500 native vascular plant species of which 30% are found nowhere else in the world. There are also 21 butterfly species, over 20 species of land snails, 14 reptile species and 43 resident bird species, which 8 are found only in Samoa (Samoa’s Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2001).
This displays that Samoa has numerous kinds of different flora and fauna established in her islands, however nowadays, the number of these species are declining rapidly due to one of the key reasons being; the bringing in of foreign plants and animals from other nations either accidentally or intentionally. These organisms are known as invasive species and they have become a major threat to Samoa’s biodiversity.
What are invasive species?
Invasive species aren’t aliens from outer space but are any plant, animal or virus which is not often originally from Samoa and is spreading beyond its normal occurrence rate causing a menace to agriculture or personal resources by damaging it. (Dovey 2003) Some examples of these would be the giant African snail, meremia vine, ivy gourd and so forth.
The impacts of these invasive species on our local environment
Invasive species are recognized as highly adaptive and fast breeding organisms. They are able spread freely in any particular environment, and due to their ability to breed uncontrollably; invasive species have an adverse influence on both humans and the environment.
Their interference with the environment has resulted in serious destruction and is a case that should be taken seriously in Samoa. Invasive vines such as merremia overwhelm vast areas of the native forests in Samoa driving many of our local plants to the verge of extinction. Furthermore, invasive vines also cause the production of flowers and fruits to dramatically decrease, affecting the species which depend on these fruits for food. For example; pigeons and fruit-bats.
Such impacts on the environment can also affect the people living in Samoa by creating “enormous costs to our islands development, food security, and human livelihoods through the damage and ruin caused to our agriculture, fisheries, and forestry industries” (Mark Bonin thesis). Moreover, Invasive species are also known to be disease carriers, thus directly harming humans and their health (Dovey 2003)
It is generally recognized that once invasive species become established, they are extremely difficult to eradicate, therefore prevention is the first and best line of defense, and also the most cost-effective. Invasive species have become threatening and aggressive thus many different strategies should be implemented to control the widespread of these species. One method and is currently the best method used nowadays; is the quarantine system which has been set up to prevent any invasive specie from further spreading in the country when it arrives.
However, with the invasives already present in our country, the best thing to do is to control its growing rate by trying out different methods of eradication. These may include aerial spraying in certain areas because such chemicals can be made specifically to destroy that kind of specie, weeding and bagging of fruits for invasive vines and so forth. Overall, this can be an effective way to eradicate the continuing breeding these species. Another possible solution for the obliteration of invasive organisms is through biological control. Biological control is the natural means of eradication. This process involves introducing another type of specie that will feed on that pest and eventually leading to its extinction. Nevertheless, care must be taken so that the new specie will not become another pest in the long run.