Towards an early warning and information system for invasive alien species (IAS) threatening biodiversity in Europe



We would like to thank EEA staff, in particular Ivone Pereira Martins (Head of Biodiversity Group), Ahmet Uludag (Project Manager, Invasive Alien Species) and Carlos Romao (Project Manager, Biodiversity and Ecosystems), for the support in
realising the present report. Special thanks also go to Tor-Bjorn Larsson who contributed to the launch of this initiative and provided useful comments and suggestions while working for EEA.

Many friends and colleagues, particularly from ISPRA and the ISSG, provided valuable information and comments. In particular we would like to thank Anna Alonzi, Rachel Atkinson, Phillip Bell, Etienne Branquart, Eckehard Brochenhoff, Christopher
Buddenhagen, Katherine Clift, Carol Cribb, András Demeter, Brian Elliott, Daniel Gluesenkamp, Brendan Gould, Andrew Harrison, David Hayes, Lorna Holton, Thomas Le Bougeois, Douglas Lush, Niall Moore, Shyama Pagad, Francoise Petter, Craig
Phillips, Petr Pyšek, Clare Shine, Hans-Erik Svart, Huw Thomas and Paula Warren.

We are also grateful to the experts who provided data and information through the questionnaire circulated to analyse gaps and best practices for the present study. They include Maria Ansaldi,Margarita Arianoutsou, Trausti Baldursson, Svein
Terje Båtvik, Etienne Branquart, Sabrina Carvalho, Simone Cianfanelli, Carla Corazza, Ejup Cota, Vincente Del Toro, Katerina Dvorackova, Pierre Ehret, Una Fitzpatrick, Giuditta Fontana, EmaGojdičová, Rayna Hardalova, Laura Harrison, Harry Helmisaari, Melanie Josefsson, Frank Klingenstein, Gordana Kolacko, Wiebe Lammers, Andrea Lenuzza, Merike Linnamägo, Hélia Marchante, Stéphanie Mathieu, Joan Mayol, Božena Mitić, Andrea Monaco, Niall Moore, Stefan Nehring, Jan Netland, Esten Ødegaard, Bjørn Økland, Jorge Orueta, Matti Osara, Jan Pergl, Tanja Peric, Lina Podda, Luis Ovidiu Popa, Agnese Priede, Wolfgang Rabitsch, Hans Peter Ravn, Juan Luis Rodríguez Luengo, Lefkios Sergides, Jakub Skorupski, Andrea Sonego, Radoslav Stanchev, Uwe Starfinger, Hans Erik Svart, Branka Tavzes, Rumen Tomov, Irfan Uysal, Adomas Vildziunas, Ágnes Vozár.

The present report is an abridged version of the report 'Towards an early warning and information system for invasive alien species (IAS) threatening biodiversity in Europe', prepared by a team of experts led by Istituto Superiore per la Protezione e la Ricerca Ambientale (ISPRA) (Italy, Rome) within a project financed by the European Environment Agency (EEA) (Contract
No. 3606/B2008/EEA.53386). That report was based on a literature analysis, an in-depth assessment of the European situation, a review of the early warning and rapid response frameworks in other regions of the world, and replies to a questionnaire circulated to representatives and experts from 38 European countries.


Towards a pan-European early warning and rapid response system to tackle biological invasions — the crucial role of information management

In recent decade, invasions of various alien species have become a major driver of biodiversity loss, second only to habitat fragmentation. One-third of bird species included in the IUCN Red List, 6 % of mammals, and 11 % of amphibians are threatened by invasive species, which account for more extinctions worldwide than any other agent.

Europe is particularly affected by alien species, which are invading the continent an unprecedented pace. DAISIE — a Sixth Framework Programme project funded by the EU — records the presence of more than 10 000 alien species in Europe. Their
impact means that many of the region's rarest endemic species are on the brink of extinction. Examples include the European mink, the white‑clawed crayfish and the white-headed duck.

Invasions do not only threaten our biodiversity. They also affect our well-being and economies, causing losses exceeding EUR 12 billion annually, endangering the ecosystem services that we depend on and transforming the landscapes that have
formed Europe's cultural background for millennia.

The European Commission has formally recognised the urgent need to tackle invasions in its Communication 'Towards an EU Strategy on Invasive Species' (COM (2008) 789 final). There it commits to develop a policy on the issue and establish an early warning system. The Council of European Ministers endorsed these commitments in the Conclusions of its 2953rd meeting (Luxembourg, 25 June 2009). In addition, G8 Environment Ministers in 2009 stressed the urgent need to combat invasive species, calling on the world community to establish a global early warning system.

The rapid increase in invasive species in recent decades requires us to implement these commitments immediately. In particular, establishing an early warning and rapid response framework should be a key target for post-2010 biodiversity protection activities.

It is essential that we improve our ability to react to invasions. That means enhancing prompt detection of new incursions and correct taxonomic identification of invaders, assessing related risks and ensuring immediate reporting of relevant
information to the competent authorities.

The present publication is the EEA contribution to achieving this goal. It is based on a longer EEA‑managed study, 'Towards an early warning and information system for invasive alien species (IAS) threatening biodiversity in Europe'. Prepared
by leading European scientists led by ISPRA, the study assesses the models for a European early warning system, identifying key challenges and cost estimates for different institutional managements.

In past years, the EEA has invested considerable resources in addressing the issue of alien species. Another major initiative in this context was the Streamlining European 2010 Biodiversity Indicators (SEBI 2010) project, aimed at ensuring maximum streamlining and comparability of national, regional and global biodiversity indicators. A specific SEBI 2010 Expert Group on Trends in Invasive Alien Species in Europe developed specific indicators for inclusion in the SEBI 2010 indicator set.

Ensuring transparent and authoritative information sharing has always been the core business of EEA. Integrating knowledge about invasive species into the Biodiversity Information System for Europe (BISE), and supporting advanced platforms to share biodiversity information across Europe, will enhance science‑based decision-making, a key contribution from EEA.

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