Invasive alien species are a major threat worldwide, impacting upon millions of livelihoods and threatening biodiversity. The situation is worsening, due in no small part to increased global trade and transport. The economic costs of IAS can be vast: worldwide, invasive species are estimated to cost US$1.4 trillion per year – close to 5% of global GDP.
In response to this threat, the European Union adopted Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 which makes compulsory the management of key IAS that are of concern to the region. Methods include limitation of spread, eradication of early invasions and active management of established IAS. A list of 37 species to be included under the regulation was approved by EU Member States in December 2015 and has recently come into force (Regulation (EU) 2016/1141). It includes 23 animals and 14 plants whose current and potential impacts across the region will mean that collaborative and concerted action is required across the EU.
This is part of the EU’s biodiversity strategy which aims to halt the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the EU by 2020 and is in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Aichi Targets, particularly Target 9:
“By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.”
At CABI, we have been working on invasive species at a global scale for decades and are experts in their management using both traditional methods and through biological control. This new legislation is welcome; recognising the serious threats that invasive species pose and imposing compulsory measures to lessen the spread and impacts of IAS in the EU.
CABI welcomes action that the EU has recently taken (September 9, 2013) to protect member states against the adverse impacts of Invasive Alien Species (IAS). The draft Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of IAS will help to coordinate management and preventative measures across the whole of the EU, leading to what will effectively be a joint battle against IAS – a problem that costs the EU at least 12 billion Euros each year.
CABI’s initial views on four key areas are summarised below:
A list of invasive alien species of Union concern
Identifying invasive species of European concern is at the core of this Regulation and we are pleased to see that lists of these species will be compiled based on scientific evidence. However, impact evidence, in the form of scientifically replicated studies, is currently lacking for many IAS across the EU. The lack of such data will inevitably have an impact on the strength of risk assessments for individual species.
Inclusion of chapter IV – Management of IAS that are widely spread
CABI is pleased to see that the draft Regulation highlights the valuable work that has been and continues to be conducted throughout EU member states, and welcomes the consultations to the draft Regulation, including all the steps needed to implement it. The inclusion of chapter IV – Management of IAS that are widely spread – is particularly welcomed, as these species are often overlooked due to the networks, resources and time needed to address them on an EU-wide scale.
Inclusion of all management methods, including biocontrol
CABI also welcomes the inclusion of all management methods into the Regulation (physical, chemical and biological actions), as the control and management of some of the more widespread EU weed species can only realistically be achieved using integrated pest management options, in particular classical biological control. Biological control also plays play an important role in protecting aquatic and riparian habitats, and so helps meet requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive as chemical and mechanical control options are often impractical or prohibitively expensive or taboo in such cases.
Inclusion of habitat restoration post control
It is encouraging to see the inclusion of habitat restoration post control, though it will be difficult to implement from a practical point of view due to cost and the highly disturbed nature of many of the habitats invaded by IAS.
Dr Dick Shaw, CABI’s Global Director of Invasive Species Management says:
“It’s great to see this initiative come so far and that Member States may soon have to do something about invasive species that can and do wreak havoc to biodiversity and their environments. There will be a lot of horse trading to come but I believe the will is there to make a change in the face of such a major and cross-cutting threat.”