What is being done to tackle the problems of Invasive non-native species?

Preventing the harmful impact of non-native species on ecosystems is a key goal of the European Biodiversity Strategy, highlighted in the Defra Review of Non-native Species Policy in 2003. Following the review An Invasive Non Natives Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain was launched in 2008.


Its aim is to minimise the risks posed by non-native species and reduce their impact.


The Strategy sets out a framework for action from Government departments, related bodies and stakeholders.. It is focuses on:


  • Prevention. A robust risk assessment process identifies significant threats from new invasions and invasion pathways.
  • Early detection, surveillance, monitoring and rapid response that involves detecting newly-arrived non-native species.
  • Mitigation, control and eradication. Risk assessment analysis identifies priority species for control and eradication.
  • Building awareness and understanding among the general public.


The Strategy is implemented through the GBNon-Native Species (NNS) mechanism, which is co-ordinated by the Non-Native Species Secretariat.


In Europe, the Bern Convention initiative for a European Strategy for Invasive Alien Species was developed in collaboration with the European Section of the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group in 2000. It was approved by the Bern Convention Standing Committee in 2003. The Europe-wide Strategy promotes the creation and use of co-ordinated measures and co-operative efforts to prevent or minimise the impacts of invasive alien species on Europe’s biodiversity. It also addresses their economic impacts and impacts on human health.


In the European Union the total cost to the EU of the impacts of invasive non-native species is estimated to be at least €12.7 billion a year. In 2008 the European Commission adopted a ‘1Communication presenting policy options for an EU Strategy on Invasive Species’, which described four possible options for a future EU strategy. They were:


Option A - Business as usual.


Option B - Maximising the use of existing legal instruments along with voluntary action.


Option B+ - Adapted existing legislation. That is an approach that is similar to Option B but with amendments to existing legislation on plant/animal health and an extended list of “ecological threat species” under the Wildlife Trade Regulation.


Option C - A new dedicated EU legal instrument.


In June 2009 the Environment Council adopted conclusions on developing the EU Strategy, which is planned for 2010. Key points for action include comprehensive risk assessment, effective control of introduction pathways, a comprehensive EU inventory drawing on existing initiatives, and an early warning system. The Council re-iterated the need for a comprehensive EU framework that works with existing regimes, fills gaps in legislation and establishes a proportionate and cost-effective EU response to invasive non-natural species.


Global mechanisms

Invasive non-native species are considered to be a major and growing problem globally and several multilateral environmental agreements (MEA) have focused on ways to limit their spread and impacts. Most notably the Convention on Biological Diversity agreed fifteen guiding principles for the prevention, introduction and mitigation of invasive non-native species impacts at the sixth Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2002. At COP 9 decisions were taken on recommendations from a review undertaken by an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/11/INF/4).


The review identified the lack of capacity as a major constraint to the prevention, eradication and control of Invasive non natives. The inadequacies included phytosanitary and quarantine control, early detection and rapid response systems, adequate field equipment; inter-sectoral planning, economic valuation, and integrated policy and legal frameworks.


The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), an Agreement developed under the Convention on Migratory Species, considered a major review, undertaken by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) related to the status and trends on non-native waterbird species in the Agreement area. Resolution 4.5 reflected on the implications for Contracting Parties.


The Convention on Wetlands, called the "Ramsar Convention” has requested its Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) to “Prepare comprehensive and up-to-date global guidance on invasive species in relation to wetlands and their management, in cooperation with the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) and other relevant organizations” for CoP 11.


UK legislation

Comprehensive information on UK Legislation in relation to non-native species can be found on the Department for Environment, Food and rural Affairs website.


[1]Towards and EU Strategy on Invasive Species. Com(2008) 789 final.