Biosecurity, invasive species and the law

Authored by: Opi Outhwaite

Routledge Handbook of Biodiversity and the Law

Print publication date:  December  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138693302
eBook ISBN: 9781315530857
Adobe ISBN:


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The impact of pests, diseases and pathogens on agriculture and human health has long been recognized. In an increasingly globalized world the nature of the threats that these pose has changed – international travel and trade have provided novel pathways for their movement, allowing diseases and pests to spread to parts of the world and populations that they might not have previously reached. The natural boundaries presented by mountain ranges and oceans, for instance, no longer restrict the range of a disease outbreak or the movement of a mosquito carrying a particular disease (Waugh, 2009). Consequently, the need arose to develop systems to mitigate and manage the risks posed, and the concept of biosecurity became increasingly important in domestic and international frameworks. The negative impacts of pests and diseases and of biosecurity failings on biodiversity and the environment more broadly are now also recognized. Animal and plant diseases can affect wild animal or native plant populations for instance, with devastating consequences (Meyerson and Reaser, 2002; Leibler et al., 2009; Lowe et al., 2004). It is also estimated that the process of climate change will lead to an increase in unwanted introductions including in the range of pathogens that may be introduced and the pathways by which those introductions could occur (Masters and Norgrove, 2010). Negative impacts on biodiversity render other species and ecosystems more susceptible to pest and disease threats (Outhwaite, 2013(a)).

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