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‘Fascinating, frightening and well-illustrated publication by Thaman’

‘Fascinating, frightening and well-illustrated publication by Thaman’
Vinesh Maharaj
September 08
11:00 2018

The USP Pacific Centre for En­vironment and Sustainable Development (PACE-SD) and the USP Press proudly announced the publication of The 2016 Fiji Ant-Mealybug Bio-invasion (FAMB) by long-serving USP Emeritus Profes­sor of Pacific Islands Biogeogra­phy, Professor Randy Thaman.

It is a fascinating, frightening ac­count of the recent biological inva­sion of Fiji’s cities, villages, homes, garden lands and islands by ants, mealybugs and other sap-sucking insects and diseases, which he says is only the latest historical example of the devastation of Pacific Island plants, animals, islands and peo­ple’s health, livelihoods and culture by invasive alien species (IAS) from beyond our borders.

Professor Thaman describes that how, with little or no assistance from authorities, this seemingly unstoppable biological jugger­naut has invaded and reinvaded our properties, leaving most of us, homeowners, gardeners, horti­culturalists and conservationists, helpless!

He argues that for many of us the 2016 FAMB seems as serious and certainly more bothersome, more immediate and less understand­able than climate change, natural disasters and environmental deg­radation and that it constitutes a living pollution that probably won’t go away and will probably only get worse over time.

In this fascinating, frightening and well-illustrated, publication, Professor Thaman discusses:

1) the origin, timing and nature of FAMB;

2) the diversity of invasive organ­isms and affected plants that are involved;

3) the environmental, economic and social impacts;

4) reasons for the seriousness of the invasion;

5) a preliminary assessment of what can be done to manage the invasion without further damag­ing our health, cultures, economies and environment; and

6) suggested areas for future stud­ies.

The study is based on a;

1) an ongoing six-month-long field study of the diversity and serious­ness of this invasion at over 40 sites in Fiji, during which photographs (which are included in the report) were taken of ants, mealy bugs and other pathogens on infested host plants;

2) discussions with gardeners, horticulturists, agriculturalists, conservationists, homeowners, tourism operators and hospitality providers in Suva and other parts of Viti Levu; and

3) discussions and correspondence with entomologists, plant scientists and other authorities on biological invasions.

In short, the 2016 Fiji Ant-Mealy­bug Bio-invasion is a frightening and enlightening must read for all of us who wish to better under­stand this seemingly unstoppable multi-front attack on our homes, gardens and the places we value, what we can do about it and the critical importance of strengthen­ing international and local biosecu­rity in Fiji as a fundamental basis for insuring food, health, livelihood and environmental security in the face of global environmental, eco­nomic and cultural change!

The book celebrated its launch at the opening of the new library at USP’s Nauru Campus along with USP’s council meeting.

It is available from the USP Book­centre. Contact maharaj_v@usp.ac.fj

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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