Why a global insect decline affects us all

Insects crucial for ecosystem functioning and food production

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A comprehensive review of insect declines around the world gives a stark picture of the scale of the declines and the consequences both for ecology and human welfare. The paper, published in Biological Conservation, warns that 40% of the world’s insect species could become extinct within a few decades under current trends. And the loss of this diversity could lead to dramatic increases in pest insects which harm food production and human health.

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Giving garlic mustard the biocontrol treatment


Garlic mustard leaves with typical feeding marks of Ceutorhynchus scrobicollis

In eastern North America a species of weed has become an aggressive invader. Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) is one of the most rapidly increasing woodland invasive plant species, spreading across northeastern and midwestern USA and southeastern Canada at a rate of nearly 2,500 square miles per year.

The plant was most likely introduced to North America in the 19th century, taken from its native habitat of Eurasia by settlers for medicinal and culinary use. Although the crushed leaves and seeds of garlic mustard smell like cultivated garlic and have been used as flavouring in cooking for centuries, the plant actually belongs to the cabbage family.

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Empowering more women in the fight against fruit flies in Pakistan

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More women in the Gilgit Baltistan (GB) region of Pakistan are benefiting from a Phytosanitary Risk Management Programme (PRMP) aimed at using a range of biological controls to fight the fruit fly pest which can impact heavily on rice and horticultural crops.

PRMP, which is funded by USAID via United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), was initiated in GB in 2016 with the purpose of implementing the biological control of fruit flies in the region. A Biological Control Laboratory was established to develop mass rearing technologies to facilitate the augmentative releases of the Biological Control Agents (BCA) of fruit flies Dirhinus giffardi and Diachasmimorpha longicaudata. So far, around 400,000 BCAs of fruit flies have been released in the region to control the pest.

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Pakistan’s agriculture sector plays a central role in the economy of the country as it contributes 18.9 percent to the GDP. Almost 42.3 percent of its population is directly involved in this sector of which 73.8 percent employment is held by women.

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Navigating ABS measures is ‘work in progress’

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In this guest blog special, Dan Leskien, Senior Liaison Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), considers how much work still needs to be done to implement Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) measures in respect of genetic resources…

I wish to commend CABI for its initiative to prepare and implement a policy on access and benefit-sharing (ABS) to work with their partners and various relevant communities to introduce best practice in compliance with relevant ABS measures of stakeholder countries.

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Trick or treat? The spooky species list

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Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. It may seem like some of the species in this article are the making of horror films and scary stories but they’re all too real. Besides giving us the creeps, these spooky specimens offer up some surprising ‘tricks’ and ‘treats’ for humans and the environment.

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Illegal wildlife trade, it’s not all rhinos and elephants

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Global cooperation is needed to reduce the trade in illegally collected plants (Stokpic Via Pixabay)

This month London hosted an international conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, highlighting fresh commitments and funding to reduce international trade in threatened animal and plant species. October also saw the annual CITES meeting where compliance issues with trade regulations laid out by CITES are discussed and resolved.

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New report calls for urgent action to tackle climate change

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Photo credit: Hans via Pixabay

The world’s leading climate scientists have issued their most extensive warning yet on the risks associated with increasing global temperatures.  The authors of the new report, published yesterday in Incheon, South Korea, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), say that urgent, far-reaching and unprecedented actions are needed across society, in order to limit warming to a maximum of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.  Exceeding this target by even half a degree significantly increases the risk of flooding, droughts, extreme heat and poverty for millions of people around the world.  However, the authors believe the changes needed are achievable, but only if we act now.

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