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Invasive alien plant, animal species spreading fast in PH, DENR seeks help

The buyo-buyo (scientific name: Piper aduncum), an invasive alien plant specie has been spreading across the country. The 'buyo-buyo' ia a highly aggressive plant linked to degradation of natural forests, according to the DENR. Photo from
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines -- The environment department will step up its collaboration with other agencies to better address the onslaught of invasive alien species (IAS) in the country.

"Department of Environment and Natural Resources isn't capable of managing IAS alone, so cooperation among different agencies is needed," said environment undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr.

IAS are plant and animal species intentionally or unintentionally introduced into areas where these don't naturally occur.

Such species are dreaded for being threats to the environment, human well-being and the economy.

'Buyo-buyo' (scientific name: Piper aduncum) is one IAS which authorities observed has been spreading across the country.

They describe 'buyo-buyo' as a highly aggressive plant linked to degradation of natural forests.

"That specie is becoming dominant in South Cotabato province's Allah Valley Watershed Forest Reserve and is already spreading to Bukidnon, Samar, Leyte, Antique, Davao del Sur and Surigao del Sur provinces - last year, we also saw some in Cebu," said Dr. Carmelita Villamor, Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau science research specialist.

Adobo noted the tourism and transportation departments are particularly vital in helping address the IAS problem.

"Cooperation of both agencies is integral in limiting introduction and spread of IAS through tourism and transport networks," he said.

He also said the science department and Bureau of Plant Industry are needed in IAS research and in preventing entry of invasive flora into the country, respectively.

"Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, on the other hand, is essential in preventing introduction of invasive aquatic species in our rivers and seas," he continued.

DENR earlier identified the common carp fish, golden apple snail, Asiatic painted frog, Asian house rat as well as water hyacinth and 'makahiya' plants as among IAS that are already widespread in the Philippines.

IAS found in the country also include the janitor fish, clown knife fish, Jaguar guapote fish, Polynesian rat, Chinese soft-shelled turtle and the lantana plant, DENR noted.

Several groups already commenced using water hyacinth as material for handmade products.

Some enterprising fisherfolk also earlier attempted drying and selling guapote as they reported onslaught of that fish in Taal Lake reduced availability of commercial fishery species there, jeopardizing their catch and income.

Guapote sightings were initially reported in 2003, noted DENR.

University of the Philippines-Los Banos School of Environmental Science and Management Dean Dr. Leonardo Florece is particularly concerned about IAS' invasion of local waters.

"I believe that's more difficult to control," he said.

He's supporting government's bid to address the IAS problem, wary about invasive species' impact on the natural ecosystem.

This week, authorities launched in Metro Manila a pilot undertaking that'll seek to control spread of 'buyo-buyo.'

Authorities will conduct the undertaking in AVWFR.

Such undertaking is among activities under the USD6.84 million 'Removing Barriers to Invasive Species Management in Production & Protection Forests in Southeast Asia' regional IAS project covering Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines.

Global Environment Facility and other institutions are funding the project to help enhance such countries' capacity to manage IAS, particularly those in forest ecosystems.

DENR serves as the project's national executing agency in the Philippines.

Adobo assured DENR's coordination with its colleagues in the project.

"Cross-sectoral partnerships are needed at the national, regional and global levels to adequately prevent and combat IAS," he said.

He also said the Philippines must cooperate with its neighbors on sharing information and management of IAS that are common to these nations.