Exotic alien plants also spread in Italy

The warming of the planet is bringing a series of consequences with it, including the spread of living species at previously unknown latitudes

by Federico Coppini
Exotic alien plants also spread in Italy

It pertains not only animal species, but also plant species. The warming of the planet is bringing a series of consequences with it, including the spread of living species at previously unknown latitudes. On several occasions we have dealt with "alien" animals, especially in the marine environment.

Now, after a work that lasted almost ten years, the updated list of alien (or exotic) plants that spontaneously spread in Italy has also been published. The result is the result of a choral research carried out thanks to the collaboration of 51 researchers coordinated by a group of scholars including Lorenzo Peruzzi, professor of systematic botany at the University of Pisa.

A NEGATIVE BALANCE From the dossier it emerges that, in contrast to the 8195 native species and sub-species, in our country there are 1597 alien plants. Even with regard to this "negative" biodiversity, Italy ranks among the nations with the largest numbers in Europe.

Among these alien species, 221 are invasive on a national scale, with 14 species included in the European Commission's blacklist, which lists a number of exotic plants and animals, the spread of which in Europe must be absolutely kept under control.

Among the problems caused by alien species, especially if invasive, there are those related to health as in the case of allergies and skin irritations also quite serious caused by the ragweed or Panàce of Mantegazza.

Or those that cause damage to agriculture and still pose the threat to biodiversity as in the case of the Hottentot fig on our rocky shores, and the pests of water in canals and lakes. “The spread of alien species is a phenomenon linked to the globalization process that must be carefully monitored,” explains Lorenzo Peruzzi.

“The regions with the highest number of exotic species, and therefore potentially the greatest problems linked to the phenomena of biological invasion, are Lombardy, Veneto and Tuscany”. ATTENTION (DUE) ALSO TO ANIMALS Alien, animal and plant species pose a threat to biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems, cause high economic costs and impact on our life and health: invasive alien species, transported intentionally or unintentionally, they are a rapidly growing phenomenon in Europe.

In the past thirty years, according to recent studies, the number of alien species it would have grown by 76 percent, with expenditure for European countries of over €12 billion per year. Italy, particularly vulnerable to the entry of alien species due to its geographical and climatic characteristics, is home to three thousand terrestrial species, of which 1645 animal and 1440 plant species.

And Italy, on an overall panorama of biodiversity of species and ecosystems is among the largest. Vertebrate species introduced by humans often cause extremely significant impacts. In this case, public opinion has a greater perception of the phenomenon; this sensitivity towards mammals also determines a particular attention towards eradication and control interventions.

Among invertebrates, over 1300 allochthonous species are known, of which about 1220 are terrestrial and 156 are freshwater both animal and vegetable, to which must be added about thirty parasitic species. These are mainly arthropods, of which more than 90 per cent are insects, which include many potential vectors of serious infections for humans.