Invasive Species Centre: 2012 Strategic Plan

Source: ISC web site

Introduction and establishment of non-native or invasive species (1) continues to be a global issue. Invasive species are considered to be the greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss (2). Economic losses associated with invasive species are also significant – annual biological invasion costs are estimated to be $1.4 trillion globally (3) (5% of the global economy), compared to $190 billion for natural disasters.

Ontario is particularly vulnerable to the threats of invasive species for a number of reasons, including: proximity to international and domestic vessel traffic that transit the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System (70% of all goods imported to Canada arrive in Ontario through the Great Lakes St Lawrence Seaway System); high volume of international and domestic passenger traffic through Pearson International Airport; and high rate of urban and economic development which can stress ecosystems leaving them more vulnerable to establishment of invasive species.

There is a history of invasive species outbreaks in Ontario, including: zebra mussel; sea lamprey; emerald ash borer; garlic mustard; and gypsy moth. In 2002-03, the rapid spread of emerald ash borer and Asian long-horned beetle in Ontario highlighted the negative impacts of invasive species on Crown and private lands as well as within municipalities and urban forests. These outbreaks have exposed the province’s vulnerability due to lack of a coordinated response system.

Both the federal and provincial governments have responsibilities to protect Canada’s natural resources from invasive species. Through several Acts (Plant Protection Act: SC 1990; Great Lakes Fishery Convention Act: RSC 1955, and more recently, the Fisheries Act 2012) the federal government of Canada has a regulatory responsibility.

1 For the purpose of this document, the definition in the 2004 Government of Canada Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada is adopted: “Alien species are species of plants, animals, and micro-organisms introduced by human action outside their natural past or present distribution. Invasive alien species are those harmful alien species whose introduction or spread threatens the environment, the economy, or society, including human health. Invasive alien species can originate from other continents, neighboring countries, or from other ecosystems within Canada.”
2 Sala et al. 2000; Simberloff et al. 2005
3 Pimentel et al. 2001