Invasives Blog

HST fire ant

CABI has announced the beta launch of its invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool, a decision support aid to help users identify potential invasive species threats to a country, state or province. The tool is supported by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).

Gareth Richards, CABI’s Compendium Programme Manager, said, “Risk assessors, plant protection officers, quarantine officers, protected area managers and researchers will find that the invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool provides a quick and user-friendly means of accessing a large volume of relevant data for categorizing and prioritizing potential invasive species.”

Information from the CABI Compendia datasheets is used to generate a list of invasive species that are absent from the selected ‘area at risk’ but present in ‘source areas’, which may be relevant because they are neighbouring countries, are linked by trade or transport routes, or share similar climates. The list of invasive species can be filtered using various criteria (e.g. pathways, habitats and taxonomy) to focus on sets of potential invasive species that may require more detailed risk assessment, surveillance, public awareness or direct action to prevent their introduction and spread.

Gareth continued “there are two versions of the invasive species Horizon Scanning Tool available; a free version for users of the open-access Invasive Species Compendium and a premium version for subscribers to CABI’s Crop Protection Compendium. The free version is immediately accessible via the link The tool currently has open beta status for early use while enhancements to the content and interface continue. We look forward to receiving feedback from the users and to further developments during 2018.

HST screenshot

A screenshot of the tool in action

The Horizon Scanning Tool links to corresponding invasive species datasheets. Where a full datasheet is available, information is provided on detection and identification, means of entry, requirements for establishment and spread, and documented negative impacts (required for horizon scanning), and also methods for prevention and control (for response planning). The list can be output to a CSV file for analysis outside the Compendium.

All users can access the filters (for pathways, habitats and taxonomic group), view the full species results list, output a CSV file of the results, and open the Invasive Species Compendium datasheets to access further information. The premium version provides two extra filters (for plant hosts and for plant parts in trade) and links to additional pest datasheets from the Crop Protection Compendium.


  1. Bethany Birchridge on 19th April 2018 at 15:20

    I liked that there was a free version of the Horizon Scanning Tool for everyday citizens. I live by a lake, and we have some invasive plant life down there. We’re able to hack and burn the ones we know, so this could be helpful. Should one run into any invasive animal species, how should they deal with it?

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