Section 2 looks at management of invasive alien species at a regional level. Three papers discuss how regional guidelines, regulations and strategies are applied and are evolving to respond to the risks of invasive alien species in the European region. Europe is a major trading bloc with many contiguous states and shared borders and highly developed free trade arrangements. Huge volumes of species are translocated, intentionally and unintentionally, between and within states. Potential invasive alien species may easily reach neighbouring states or ecologically different parts of the same state.
Box 1: Regional organizations and standards in the IPPC framework
The 1997 revision of the International Plant Protection Convention describes the role of regional plant protection agencies, including that they shall participate in various activities to achieve the objectives of this Convention and, where appropriate, shall gather and disseminate information (Article IX.2). The new revised text also includes the concept of regional standards for phytosanitary measures.
IPPC (1997) Article X.3:
Chapter 4 describes how the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization, as the regional plant protection organization within the framework of the International Plant Protection Convention, has developed a body of regional standards for phytosanitary measures for the guidance of its member countries. Many of these standards are relevant to management of invasive alien species and EPPO has an active work programme investigating the risks posed to the region by invasive alien species. Chapter 5 explains the need for a regional strategy on invasive alien species and describes the development of a Europe-wide strategy under the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Resources (Bern Convention). Chapter 6 focuses specifically on the member states of the European Union and how the EU phytosanitary system meshes with the guiding principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity in responding to invasive alien species. Major points are summarized below.
Regional standards for phytosanitary measures
The 1997 new revised text of the IPPC includes mention of regional standards as a component of the standard-setting objectives of the convention (see box 1). Over many years EPPO has developed a large body of regional standards, now exceeding 400, many relating to pest-specific phytosanitary measures. These standards provide support for EPPO members (not only European countries but also countries of North Africa and Near East) in dealing with quarantine pests and, more recently, with invasive alien species that are quarantine pests. Members are recommended to manage these pests through national phytosanitary regulations. The work of the regional plant protection organization and the regional standards helps promote a harmonized regional approach. This is very important in the European situation where there are numerous internal borders in a large continent.
Many of the regional standards refer to one particular general standard providing two lists of pests recommended for regulation as quarantine pests (see box 2). In 2002, EPPO resolved that invasive alien species that have an effect on plants are quarantine pests under the IPPC. Quarantine pests may be:
National plant protection organizations are encouraged to consider their responsibilities for the management of such species. Where the pest is an invasive plant primarily affecting the environment, the NPPOs would be expected to consult with national environmental authorities and should also respect the CBD guiding principles. EPPO also recommends its members, in addition to targeting specific pests, take general background measures against alien pests; such general measures may be relevant for invasive alien plants.
Box 2: Invasive plants as quarantine pests in a region
The European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization distinguishes two categories of quarantine pest, listing:
These categories have implications for risk identification and management of invasive alien species. Pest risk analysis for quarantine pests may be initiated by identification of a pathway for the entry or spread of a pest. For invasive plants, the questions of origin and pathway are not the same as for other quarantine pests:
The existing regional standards include many that are relevant to invasive alien species. Invasive species could become a component of the lists of quarantine pests and could be covered by standards on specific measures or procedures, pest risk analysis or diagnostic protocols. The development of regional standards on commodity specific measures could cover pest plants. In particular, regional standards on national regulatory control systems may be developed to provide for the management of invasive alien species.
In a further role of support for the phytosanitary organizations of member countries, EPPO publishes an up-to-date alert list on its Web site, drawing attention to any pest incident that could be of phytosanitary significance. Several invasive plants are now included in this list. EPPO has also established an expert panel on invasive alien species, which is developing a list of invasive plants in the region and selecting a high-priority group for pest risk analysis.
The European Strategy on Invasive Alien Species
Europe needs a strategy on invasive alien species because:
Invasive alien species from all taxonomic groups are a threat to European biodiversity.
Europe has many countries, shared borders and growing freedom of trade and movement.
European countries actively supported the adoption of guiding principles on invasive alien species under the CBD (refer footnote on page 7).
Common approaches are needed to make the CBD guiding principles operational and to reach agreement on priorities, especially for transboundary problems.
As well as damaging biodiversity, invasive alien species have imposed huge losses on the European economy, affecting, for example, agriculture, forestry, fisheries and land stability. The European Community has identified proliferation of invasive alien species as an emerging issue.
Many European states face similar constraints in prevention and management efforts.
Depending on the country, these may include:
In 2000, the Bern Conventions expert group on invasive alien species began developing a strategy to address the above constraints. In December 2003, the Bern Convention Standing Committee adopted a recommendation urging contracting parties to develop and implement national strategies on invasive alien species taking into account the European strategy.
The European Strategy on Invasive Alien Species contains an introductory section and eight substantive sections, cross-referenced to relevant CBD guiding principles. Each of these eight sections sets out a specific aim, key actions and practical indicators for additional actions. The eight specific aims of the strategy are:
Many aspects of implementing the strategy will be delivered through existing plant, animal and human health agencies with longstanding expertise in specific areas. The strategy encourages the active engagement of stakeholders involved in the movement, use and control of potential invasive alien species (industry and trade, transporters, retailers etc.) as well as competent non-governmental organizations and research institutes. Many of the proposed actions call for joint or complementary initiatives by private and public stakeholders. The strategy recognizes that contracting parties existing legal obligations may constrain or influence the measures that can be taken, particularly as regards trade-related aspects.
The EU phytosanitary framework and invasive alien species
The phytosanitary provisions and systems of the member states of the EU have been fully harmonized since 1993. Most of the measures have to be applied in the same way in all member states. In principle, the EU phytosanitary system covers most of the CBDs guiding principles on invasive alien species.
Measures applied to imports and the internal movement of plants and plant products are based on directive 2000/29/EC of the Council of the European Union. All EU member states are obliged to prohibit the import and internal movement of specified quarantine organisms (listed in annexes of the directive) and of other alien organisms potentially harmful to plants. Traditionally, these organisms are plant pests directly harmful to plants or plant products; thus, the EU plant health provisions usually relate to preventing and controlling unintentional introductions.
All main pathways for alien harmful organisms affecting plants are regulated and controlled by the EU phytosanitary system in order to minimize the probability of introduction of these organisms. These pathways are mainly:
If not already prohibited from import, such items are subjected to inspection at the EU borders on entry. It implements elements of the CBD guiding principles 7 and 11, which call for border controls and measures to minimize unintentional introductions.
The phytosanitary control of intentional import of species is much less developed than the measures against unintentional introduction. The EU provisions are focused only on those alien organisms that are directly harmful to plants and plant products, such as bacteria and insects. A 2002 revision of directive 2000/29/EC allows application of protective measures to organisms that are suspected of being harmful to plants or plant products but are not specified in the annexed lists. In the same revision, the directive adopts the IPPC definition of a plant pest as its definition of harmful organism. Thus there is the legal basis to regulate on the EU level the intentional introduction of such invasive alien species as weeds and invasive alien plants. The current EU phytosanitary system partially fulfils the requirements of the CBD guiding principles 7 and 10 dealing with border controls and measures to minimize risk associated with intentional introductions of alien species that are or could become invasive.
If quarantine organisms listed in the annexes of directive 2000/29/EC are identified in an area in the EU where they have not been found before, the member state concerned has to take effective action against the outbreak with the aim to stop its spread and, if possible, to eradicate or suppress the population of the organism in the infested area. If outbreaks are identified for new harmful organisms, the member state concerned is obliged to take preliminary measures that at least limit the spread of the organism to other member states. The CBD guiding principles 12-15 provide for the mitigation of impacts of invasive alien species, their eradication or, if this is not possible, their control. The EU provisions on this are in principle a powerful tool ensuring that all member states take the required action individually or, if necessary, community wide.
Pest risk analysis is an essential component in the protection of habitats, ecosystems, plants and other organisms and features in seven of the CBD guiding principles. Pest risk analysis in the EU plant health system is based on IPPC provisions and standards. In principle, it covers all requirements of the guiding principles, including the consideration of the precautionary approach, the application of a cost-benefit analysis and research.
The EU phytosanitary system partly covers the role of states (guiding principle 4). The CBD recommendation that states should identify, as far as possible, species that could become invasive and make such information available to other states may be interpreted to require pest risk analysis done by the exporting state for the importing state. This is not considered to be a realistic requirement. Pest risk analyses in the EU plant health system are done on the importing side. However, once informed of species that may be invasive to other countries, member states have to take this into account before exports of potentially problematic products can take place and the required plant health certificates are issued.
The only guiding principle covered poorly in most member states is that on education and public awareness (guiding principle 6). Risk communication not only to the stakeholders but also to the public is crucial for a long-term acceptance of effective measures against invasive alien species that are plant pests. The EU population is not sufficiently aware of the threat posed by invasive alien species to agriculture, forestry and the uncultivated environment.
Regional cooperation and responsibility
Cooperation is the subject of CBD guiding principle 9, which points out that a states response to minimizing the spread and impact of invasive alien species may require a bilateral or multilateral approach with other countries. Cooperation between contracting parties and the EU member states is a main prerequisite for the EU phytosanitary system in general and one of the main goals of EPPO. Cooperation between different stakeholders in the management of invasive alien species in Europe is already taking place, for example between EPPO (plant health) and the Bern Convention (nature conservation).
The European Strategy on Invasive Alien Species includes in its fourth aim:
cooperation between parties to the Bern Convention, where states recognize the risk that activities within their jurisdiction or control may pose to other states as a potential source of invasive alien species and take appropriate individual and cooperative actions to minimize that risk
the role of the Bern Convention in strengthening cooperation with relevant regional and global institutions
subregional cooperation, where states sharing common problems in a subregion (including states not party to the Bern Convention) are encouraged to develop and participate in relevant programmes.
Information and research aspects of IAS management in Europe
For regional initiatives in risk identification and management of invasive alien species to be successful, relevant information must be accurate, timely and accessible to all concerned.
Monitoring and early warning are crucial elements of risk identification. Examples in the European region include:
EPPOs alert list, published on the Internet, draws attention to any pest incident that could be of phytosanitary significance.
The phytosanitary system of the EU stipulates that if quarantine pests or other potential invasive alien species that may pose a risk to plants in the EU are found in import inspections of consignments from non-EU countries, immediate notification must be made to the other responsible bodies in the member states and to the European Commission. More than 2 500 such notifications in a standardized format are circulated annually. A computerized information exchange system coming into operation will allow direct input of the relevant information into the system and its immediate availability to all services that have access to it.
Any finding of a quarantine pest in a previously uninfested area inside the EU has to be notified. So, also, do outbreaks of harmful organisms that are new to the EU or that show unexpected characteristics of phytosanitary relevance.
The sixth aim of the European Strategy on Invasive Alien Species involves early detection and rapid response. It recommends that parties have comprehensive and cost-effective surveillance procedures in place.
In a more general information role, the European Strategy on Invasive Alien Species includes in its second aim:
species inventories by parties, to help identify species that are invasive, set priorities for research, prevention, monitoring and mitigation and rapidly detect new arrivals not already present in the country or part of the country
research and monitoring for a better understanding of the ecology, distribution, patterns of spread and response to management of invasive alien species, as well as to provide a stronger scientific basis for decision-making and allocation of resource
regional exchange of information through ensuring effective systems are in place to share information relating to invasive alien species with neighbouring countries, trading partners and regions with similar ecosystems.
Points to note
Section 2s coverage of regional management of invasive alien species provides many details that are specific to Europe. However, some aspects are noteworthy on a more general basis for application in any region:
A regional strategy is important, given that invasive alien species are a cross-border problem.
Regional plant protection organizations provide a framework for developing regional standards to deal with invasive alien species that are pests of plants.
Where a group of countries have harmonized regulations relating to phytosanitary measures, there is opportunity for a strong regional approach to the management of invasive alien species.
Regional bodies are increasingly giving formal recognition of the threats posed by invasive alien species and encouraging the cooperative efforts of individual states to manage these risks.
Cooperation is an essential element of regional initiatives.
Systems for information collection, management and sharing, including monitoring and early warning, must be developed with attention given to ensuring the information is timely and relevant.
This digest consists of information extracted from section 2, together with some background material and explanatory comment. For the full detail, argument, examples and supporting references, please refer to the following chapters 4-6.