Invasive Alien Species in Canada

With thousands of different plants and animals, Canada is a country rich in biodiversity. But did you know that not all of these species are native to the habitats in which they live? Some of them come from other parts of the country or the world often having hitched a ride with human travelers, in cargo, on the bottom of boats and in the ballast of ships.

These types of species are called “alien species”, and while many of these species do not pose any immediate risk, and may even provide important benefits, many others, such as Purple Loosestrife, the Emerald Ash Borer and the Green Crab can cause very significant ecological, economic and environmental damage. These species are known as “invasive” alien species.

The Government of Canada is working hard to manage invasive alien species and conserve our ecosystems. According to the World Conservation Union, invasive alien species are the second most significant threat to biodiversity, after habitat loss. In their new ecosystems, invasive alien species become predators, competitors, parasites, hybridizers, and diseases of our native and domesticated plants, animals and marine life. The impact of invasive alien species on native ecosystems, habitats and species is severe and often irreversible, and can cost billions of dollars each year.

In 2004, the federal government, working in cooperation with its provincial and territorial counterparts, developed An Invasive Alien Species Strategy for Canada. The National Strategy plays an important role in preventing new invasions, detecting and responding to new invasive alien species and in managing established invasive alien species through eradication, containment and control. This Strategy seeks to protect Canada’s aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and their native biological diversity and domestic plants and animals, from the risks of invasive alien species.

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