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Plant Invasions in Asia

Asia, occupying nearly 30% of the earth’s terrestrial surface, is one of the most important continent known for its highly diverse culture, economy, geography, and ecology. Three of the world’s five largest economies, and nearly two-thirds of the world’s population, are in Asia. The continent has a diverse range of habitats including tropical moist and boreal forests, deserts, and the Arctic tundra. Eleven out of 36 global biodiversity hotspots are in Asia, all of which are threatened due to multiple human-mediated drivers including biological invasions. The number of known invasive alien plant species (IAPS) currently present in Asia is high, and their number and distribution are expected to increase further due to a lack of effective management responses, land use and climate changes, and expanding international trade, travel, and transport. IAPS such as Ageratina adenophoraChromolaena odorataLantana camaraLeucaena leucocephalaMikania micranthaMimosa diplotrichaParthenium hysterophorus, and Pontederia crassipes are widespread in the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia. Most of the known IAPS in Asia have a Central and South American origin. However, information on biological invasions, especially those of plants, is poor and fragmented, hampering efforts to develop and implement policies and management interventions. The continent is lagging behind much of the world in research effort and knowledge generation related to plant invasions. Capacity, both human and otherwise, of most countries to address biological invasions is low. Most countries (particularly in Central Asia) also lack a comprehensive database of IAPS. Ecological impact studies are also lacking in Southeast, Central, and North Asia. With a few exceptions, the economic cost of plant invasions is also unknown in most countries. Priority actions required for effective management of IAPS in Asia include regional collaboration for research and knowledge sharing, promotion and institutionalization of biological control, and increased focus on socioecological research related to plant invasions. Additionally, efforts are required at the continental scale to make all stakeholders aware of the problem of plant invasions for the formulation of appropriate policies and implementation of effective management strategies.

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