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The Americas

North America

Invasive Species – Coming to America

Randy Westbrooks, Ph.D.,
Invasive Species Prevention Specialist U.S.
Geological Survey, Whiteville, North Carolina

Betsy Brabson
South Carolina Coordinator
Carolinas Beach Vitex Task Force
Georgetown, South Carolina USA

Over the past 500 years, more than 50,000 species and varieties of plants and animals have been introduced to North America. A small percentage of these introductions have escaped cultivation and established free living populations in the U.S. and Canada. It is estimated that costs of exotic invasive species to the American economy are now over $150 billion per year, and of this total, invasive plants account for over $50 billion per year. Unlike chemical pollutants, that can be eliminated from use and will eventually break down in the environment, invasive species, which are biological pollutants, can reproduce and spread, causing ever increasing problems unless they are prevented, or at a minimum, controlled. [Full report PDF 2.9 MB]


South America

Alien species in South America

Silvia Ziller
Diretora Executiva - Executive Director
Instituto Hórus de Desenvolvimento e Conservação Ambiental
The Horus Institute for Environmental Conservation and Development
Florianópolis - SC, Brasil

Although the issue of invasive alien species is still not widely known in Latin America, as in other parts of the world, many countries have recognized them as a major threat and are moving to generate information and implement management and control actions at least in protected areas.

A joint effort of the I3N – IABIN invasive species thematic information network, The Horus Institute of Brazil (, The Universidad Nacional del Sur in Argentina (, the extinct Invasive Alien Species Program for South America of The Nature Conservancy, and the Global Invasive Species Programme ( has changed the level of awareness and action on the issue in Latin America. Seventeen countries are developing national invasive species databases, a number of them already online (see, and other six countries are developing national strategies. [Full  report PDF 1.1 MB]