Biological invasions as cause and consequence of ‘our’ changing world

Social and environmental paradoxes 1

Authored by: Cécilia Claeys

Routledge International Handbook of Social and Environmental Change

Print publication date:  October  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415782791
eBook ISBN: 9780203814550
Adobe ISBN: 9781136707995


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Concern for the environment has arisen from claims about the depletion of living species and has, as such, raised awareness among decision makers and the general public about endangered species, thresholds of irreversibility and declining biodiversity. Yet, sitting alongside the list of endangered species published by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is a list of invasive species. This list identifies a major new ecological risk. Biological invasions are caused by ‘alien species whose establishment and spread threaten ecosystems, habitats or species with economic or environmental harm’ (Article 8(h) of the Convention on Biological Diversity). The new semantic field of biological invasion recycles and extends naturalist discourses denouncing the depletion of species. Living matter is now understood quantitatively (as biomass) and qualitatively (as endemic, or valued, species), which has complicated the notion of biodiversity.

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