Invasive alien species : a threat to sustainable livelihoods in the Pacific? : an assessment of the effects of Wasmannia auropunctata (little fire ant) and Achatina fulica (giant African snail) on rural livelihoods in the Solomon Islands : a dissertation presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies, Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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Invasive alien species (IAS) are a global phenomenon and are recognised as a driver of environmental change which can affect the well-being of people in a multitude of ways. Despite this, the role of IAS in local livelihoods has received relatively little attention. Influencing all three of the sustainable development pillars (social, economic, environmental), IAS should be recognised as a significant development issue. But they are not. As such, IAS issues are new to many sectors and governments and therefore largely go unseen and un-actioned. Contemporary rural livelihoods in the Solomon Islands are heavily reliant on subsistence/semi-subsistence agriculture. Following a livelihoods’ framework developed for the Solomon Islands, this thesis explores the influence IAS have on rural livelihoods in this country. Using two qualitative case studies, Wasmannia auropunctata (little fire ant) and Achatina fulica (giant African snail), this study investigates how vulnerable/resilient rural livelihoods are to the effects of IAS and the implications IAS have for sustainable development in the Solomon Islands. The effects of IAS on rural livelihoods are complex and at times contradictory. W. auropunctata for the most part is not negatively affecting the dominant livelihood strategy (subsistence/semi-subsistence agriculture) practised in the Solomon Islands. While there are some social impacts associated with W. auropunctata, overall Solomon Island households can be considered resilient to this IAS. Achatina fulica is a different story. This species is negatively affecting the subsistence/semi-subsistence agricultural sector on which so many rural Solomon Island households depend. This has resulted in households implementing negative livelihood diversification measures as they fail to cope or adapt to the snails’ presence. Unlike for W. auropunctata, Solomon Island households have not demonstrated any resilience to A. fulica. Understanding how rural livelihoods are affected by various stressors and adverse events can help to design development policies and interventions geared towards building better lives for all people. This can only occur however, if the full range of shocks are recognised. To date, this is not the case for IAS, and as such, they are still a significant missing component of development policy.
Subsistence farming, Sustainable development, Rural development, Introduced organisms|, Biological invasions, Economic aspects, Giant African snail, Ants, Solomon Islands, Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences, Invasive alien species, Wasmannia auropunctata, Little fire ant, Achatina fulica, African snail, Livelihoods, Agriculture, Impacts