The European Commission is proposing new legislation to prevent and manage the threat to Europe’s ecosystems from invasive alien species. There are currently over 12 000 species in Europe that are alien to the natural environment, around 10-15 % of which have reproduced and spread, causing environmental, economic and social damage. The problem is growing rapidly due to the increasing volume of trade and travel across the globe. Read more…
Alien species such as animals, plants, fungi or micro-organisms are transported across ecological barriers through human action and can have a negative impact on the ecology and biodiversity of their new location. It is estimated they cost the European economy around EUR 12 billion every year through hazards to human health, damage to infrastructure, and yield losses in agriculture. In addition, they can seriously damage ecosystems and cause the extinction of species that are needed to maintain the balance of the natural environment.
Many Member States are already spending considerable resources in dealing with this problem, but their efforts lack effectiveness if implemented purely on a national basis. For example, the Giant Hogweed eradication campaign in Belgium will be undermined if the species subsequently reinvades from France. The Commission is therefore proposing to establish a framework to ensure coordinated action, which is centred on a list of invasive alien species of Union concern drawn up in collaboration with Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence. Selected species will be banned from the EU, meaning it will not be possible to import, buy, use, release or sell them.
The proposal covers three main types of intervention – prevention, early warning and rapid response, and management. Member States will be required to organise checks to prevent the intentional introduction of species of concern to the Union. However, many species come into the EU unintentionally as a contaminant in goods or trapped in transport containers, and Member States will be expected to take action to spot such pathways and take corrective measures. The proposal also requires Member States to take immediate action to eradicate a species of concern that they detect is becoming established, and to put in place measures to minimise the harm caused where listed species are already widely spread.
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