Invasive alien species are spreading around the world (Image: Getty)
Scientists have claimed that invasive alien species are taking over at an unprecedented rate, potentially causing an extinction threat to both animals and humans.
They said their cost to the world economy was estimated to be around £336billion a year, a figure four times higher than it was in the 1970s.
They said the latest horrifying figure was just the “tip of the iceberg”, but that there was still time to act.
For hundreds of years animals, plants, and organisms have been introduced to other ecosystems.
While not all of these have been invasive, the boom in travel in the 20th and 21st centuries means that more invasive species are taking over.
A connected world means invasive species can travel further and faster (Image: Getty)
Of the 37,000 alien species that have been documented by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) around 3,500 have become invasive.
These aliens are now present on every continent on Earth, including Antarctica.
Furthermore, they are considered one of the main causes of biodiversity loss alongside pollution, climate change, and direct exploitation.
The scientists behind the report estimate that invasive species are contributing to 60 percent of global extinctions. Governments around the planet have now committed to protecting 30 percent of the Earth’s land and sea for nature by 2030.
Invasive species could pose an extinction threat (Image: Getty)
Speaking to PA about the situation, Professor Helen Roy, of the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology said: “We really believe that this assessment is one of hope.
“There are things that people can do to tackle the threat of invasive alien species.
“They can be mitigated, prevented, through effective management and we really stress that the most important management is prevention, preventing the species from reaching new areas in the first place.
“But if they do reach new areas, then being prepared and having early detection and rapid response is absolutely critical.”
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Professor Roy and other scientists have warned members of the public to be on the lookout for invasive species such as the Asian hornet so they can be eradicated.
She said: “We are talking in this particular context, not about those range-expanding species that are native, but about invasive alien species that are being moved by humans at really unprecedented rates and then we’re mixing them together in different ways.
“Of course, extinction is such an important thing to be considering, but also it’s really important to think about the extinction of interactions when one species is displacing another or reducing its numbers to such very low abundance.
“We are causing ecological changes that perhaps will lead to really quite unpredictable outcomes in terms of the functioning of these ecosystems and the benefits we receive from them.”