An information exchange system is being established to help government bodies better ward off the impact brought on by alien invasive species.
The move is to change the current situation that finds the issue of such species usually considered by different government bodies, according to Cai Lei with the State Environmental Protection Administration biodiversity and biosafety office.
Alien invasive species are species introduced from abroad that cause damage to local ecosystems, threaten native species and lead to losses of local biodiversity.
Experts estimate such species bring about nearly 120 billion yuan (US$14.5 billion) of losses in China annually.
Cai said government bodies such as the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Environmental Protection Administration and the State Forestry Administration are involved in the exchange system.
In addition, similar systems will be set up among provinces to prevent alien invasive species spreading from one region to another, she said.
Meanwhile, officials are also discussing whether such species should be listed on the agenda of a ministerial conference on species protection. Such a conference was first held last August and is being planned for twice yearly.
A national survey conducted during 2001 and last year found that currently there are 283 alien invasive species in the country, ranging from terricolous plants, reptiles to microorganisms.
Nearly 40 percent of the species were deliberately introduced as useful plants and animals, which then proved to be disastrous for local ecosystems and species.
About 49 percent entered the country accidentally in the process of trade and then developed into damaging wild species.
Xu Haigen, director of the Division of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity of the Nanjing Institute of Environmental Sciences, said many people lack sufficient knowledge about the impact of alien species on ecosystems and the environment and therefore pay no attention to the problem.
Some even blindly believe that alien plants are better than native ones. Xu said almost all the grass seeds for lawns are imported from abroad.
The facts that there is no risk assessment for introducing alien species and that management of introduced species is not effective enough also contribute to the unfavorable situation in the country, he added.
(Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2004)