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Section 7
Implementation and national delivery capacity

Information digest of section 7

Section 7 provides a great diversity of examples of how national plant protection organizations are implementing measures relating to the International Plant Protection Convention and invasive alien species. It includes, also, descriptions of tools and resources that may be employed for assessing and improving the effectiveness of policy implementation. Because of the wide-ranging material offered in chapters 23 to 34, this information digest is presented as a short description of the salient features of each chapter in turn. No attempt is made to synthesize the information.

Phytosanitary capacity evaluation

Chapter 23 describes Phytosanitary Capacity Evaluation (PCE), a diagnostic tool enabling a country to assess the weaknesses and strengths of its phytosanitary system in relation to its ability to fully implement the IPPC and other international phytosanitary obligations. PCE assists countries in the modernization of their phytosanitary systems to meet international phytosanitary obligations in an efficient and sustainable manner. PCE could be used as a tool for trading partners to mutually recognize their phytosanitary capacity or as an instrument to measure IPPC implementation at the global level. The methodology has the potential to be further developed to cover a country’s needs in implementing Article 8(h) of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The pooled PCE results from 36 developing countries demonstrate a common pattern where the legislative framework and institutional issues become the main limiting factor in most categories considered. The second limiting factor appears to be weakness in management, documented procedures and training. Third, the limitations are those deficiencies related to infrastructure and equipment. This conclusion is relevant for technical assistance programmes, which traditionally are more concerned with investments in infrastructure and equipment than in legal and institutional issues.

The scientific, administrative and legislative framework for considering invasive alien species is largely more fragmented at both the national and international level than the plant protection framework. Thus, adaptation of PCE to cover invasive alien species is likely to reveal not only the same major limiting factor but also that legislative and institutional issues are even more predominant.

Meeting the standard in the use of biological control

Biological control is an important tool for the management of invasive species. During the past decade, increasing concerns have been raised about the potential negative impact of introduced biological control agents on non-target organisms. This has highlighted the need to examine and guide the process of importation and release of natural enemies. The third international standard for phytosanitary measures, ISPM 3: Code of conduct for the import and release of exotic biological control agents, is specifically concerned with this process.

A study investigated how effectively these guidelines had been used by countries since the endorsement of the standard in 1996. One key provision of ISPM 3 is that a dossier be prepared for each new introduction, with details of the pest (its identification, importance and known natural enemies), the natural enemy (identification, biology, host specificity, hazards to non-target hosts, its natural enemies and possible contaminants and procedures for their elimination), human and animal health and safety issues, and protocols for the introduction. This requirement offered a means for assessing implementation of the standard since 1996. Additionally, a survey evaluated general aspects of the use of ISPM 3 in developing countries that did not have a long history of independently mounting biological control projects prior to its endorsement.

Key findings of the study are shown in the box.

Conclusions were that production and dissemination of ISPM 3 was timely and ensures that environmental issues are raised. ISPM 3 also provided a mechanism for formalizing good practice and set standards for information requirements for decisionmaking within an internationally recognized frame. It has provided a mechanism for facilitation of regional collaboration. There is an urgent need to address some of the key constraints, in particular, the lack of capacity, the lack of technical guidelines and the absence of national mechanisms for implementation of the standard.

Implementation of an international standard relating to invasive alien species

Key findings of a study on the implementation of an international standard for phytosanitary measures, ISPM 3: Code of conduct for the import and release of exotic biological control agents:

Of a total of 104 introductions made since 1996 in 42 countries or territories, dossiers or environmental assessments were prepared in support of at least 75 introductions.

Of those 42 countries/territories, at least 30 used dossiers or environmental assessments.

Eighty-two percent of the countries were aware of ISPM 3.

Most of the countries (76 percent) followed the provisions of ISPM 3 either partially or completely.

Knowledge of ISPM 3 among relevant national agencies and other stakeholders in biological control was limited (15 percent) or poor (65 percent).

Most of the countries surveyed had some legislation governing importation and release of biological control agents.

ISPM 3 had made introductions: more rigorous (46 percent), more lengthy and time consuming (27 percent), more difficult (7 percent), easier (20 percent).

The major constraint identified was lack of technical capacity (41 percent). Many countries (47 percent) did not have quarantine facilities, which are essential during the introductory process.

Source: Kairo, Cock and Quinlan (2003).

Rapid detection of pests in China

China has conducted considerable research into how to improve its diagnostic measures and methods for pest inspection operations by its plant quarantine services. In particular, effective and rapid methods for detection of viruses were urgently needed.

Polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay form the basis of the improved pest detection methods. To identify Tobacco ring spot virus, gold immunochromatography assay was developed in 2002; this allowed results to be obtained within one to two minutes of testing the sap of infected plants. Other examples of improved detection methods include those for Prunus necrotic ring spot virus, Curvularia lunata and Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. For citrus pests, China has developed specialized immunological detection kits that are sensitive, durable and comparatively economical.

However, the high costs of immunological detection are a constraint on their use. So, also, are the lack of appropriate technology and the difficulty of translating sophisticated laboratory methods into practical application in the field.

Invasive alien species in Kenya

Chapter 26 describes the nature of the problem of invasive alien species in Kenya and the strategies used to manage the problem. Management strategies have included quarantine measures for unintentional and intentional introductions, eradication, containment and control, monitoring and research, regional cooperation and public awareness.

To prevent the introduction of invasive alien species into Kenya, importation of any plant material is subject to strict specified conditions. Plant quarantine restrictions are based on pest risk analysis and existing scientific knowledge on the distribution, biology and pests of the plant. Intentional introduction of alien species in Kenya has been done, mostly biocontrol agents.

For invasive species that have been unintentionally introduced to Kenya, appropriate steps such as eradication, containment and control have been undertaken to mitigate adverse effects. For instance, for water hyacinth control, options have included mechanical removal of the weed and the use of biocontrol agents.

Much research has been undertaken to develop an adequate knowledge base, especially for serious invasive species such as the larger grain borer (Prostephanus truncatus), the water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) and Prosopis spp., all of which have had significant socio-economic consequences. Kenya‘s NPPO has worked closely with the research institutions to determine the status of invasive species and develop management options. Surveillance and monitoring are employed to detect new invasive species. Education and public awareness are also an important element for management of invasive species.

A regional approach is necessary because some of the species affect other countries. Examples include the water hyacinth, which has affected Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and the larger grain borer, which has severely affected Kenya and Tanzania. To this end, there has been a move towards regional cooperation between the three East African states, with harmonization of phytosanitary measures and strengthening of phytosanitary services, inspection and certification. This has played a big role in the preventing the introduction of invasive alien species and in their control.

Capacity building is progressing, through staff training and recruitment and through establishing more inspection points and laboratory facilities at the entry points.

Phytosanitary programmes in Germany

Plant protection organizations, regulatory frameworks, responsibilities and activities in Germany exist at three levels: the international, the national and the federal state (or Land) level. Given that there are 16 Länder with their own ministries, the structure of plant protection in Germany is complex. Chapter 27 takes the plant protection organization within the federal state of Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia) as an example of the structure at the level of the Länder. The state is noted for its floriculture and nursery industries.

Since 1993, when border inspections between the member states of the European Union were abolished, there has been free trade of plants within the EU when accompanied by a plant passport. The work of the phytosanitary service now centres on the registration and control of enterprises such as producers, traders, import and export enterprises, stock and storehouses, and trade in wood and wooden packaging. The main focus in relation to trade is on the export of wooden packaging material, effective vigilance at the points of entry and particular watchfulness of horticultural products.

Monitoring plant health controls in the EU

The Food and Veterinary Office of the European Commission verifies that adequate levels of control are in place in the member states in the areas of food safety, animal health, plant health and animal welfare. This office carries out 20 - 25 plant health inspection missions per year. There are around 90 inspectors in the FVO, of whom six are in the sector "Plant Health".

The main tool for monitoring member states’ delivery of plant health controls in the EU is on the-spot inspections. This is supplemented by other means, such as evaluation of reports and data requested from member states, either directly or required under legislation.

Features of the inspection process include:

This process of monitoring the delivery of plant health controls in the EU has evolved to its present well-developed state as a result of lessons learnt on procedures, quality control, systematic follow-up and necessary resources.

South Africa’s Working for Water programme

The exceptional climatic diversity of South Africa is reflected in the country’s high level of biodiversity but it also helps the easy establishment of a large variety of invasive alien species in all the different biomes (from forest biomes to semi-desert areas). The cost of controlling invading alien plants in South Africa has been estimated at Rand 600 million (approximately US$100 million) a year over 20 years. Invading alien plants are the single biggest threat to plant and animal biodiversity.

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry created a conservation programme called Working for Water in 1995. This programme supports a variety of labour-intensive projects to eradicate invasive alien plants using mechanical methods, chemical methods and biological control. The main purpose of the project is to conserve water through the eradication of invasive alien species. Operating as a labour-intensive public works programme, it reflects the South African government’s commitment to natural resource conservation, training, job creation, capacity building and poverty eradication. The programme now includes many government departments and partner organizations. A combination of intergovernmental, cross-sector and international support has allowed Working for Water to develop into a programme with more than 300 sites across the country in all the provinces. It has created more than 40 000 jobs, educated and trained unskilled labourers and helped in community development programmes.

To implement a large programme such as Working for Water, a strong, clear and effective plan of action is needed with policies, protocols and standard operating procedures. The programme has standardized documents for the different aspects of its implementation (funding, guidelines for contractors, procurement conditions, training guidelines, invoice information, key performance indicators etc.) but it also allows for flexibility, because circumstances in different areas as well as practical experience result in more effective procedures.

Working for Water has established and maintains a research unit as part of its commitment to the sound management of invasive alien plants. The five research themes coordinated by the research unit are:

Biological control agents are a notable element in South Africa’s management of invasive alien species. Since 1913, more than 82 species of biocontrol agents have been introduced into South Africa to control 47 weed species. They have proved effective in dealing with the problem of woody invasive plants, which may be economically important but which are responsible for major water losses. Biocontrol agents can target specific plant organs; seed-reducing agents reduce the reproductive potential of the plants, curb their dispersal and reduce the follow-up work needed after clearing, while still allowing for the continued utilization of the plant.

One objective of the Working for Water programme is sustainable development. The creation of short-term contract job opportunities, skills development, income generation, improved nutrition and raised education levels are examples of social upgrading of communities. The protection and rehabilitation of indigenous ecosystems is another important part of the programme. Other elements are education and training, the development of secondary industries, sex education and child care. The Working for Water programme is one of the world’s most holistic programmes, bringing people together to work for the same goal.

Dealing with ecological complexity in pest risk analysis

When national plant protection agencies responsible for pest risk assessment implement both the IPPC and CBD and include environmental risks in the analysis, they will be dealing with a wide scope of pest impacts (e.g. the indirect effects of a plant pest on other organisms, effects on native plants, effects on plants via the effect of a pest on other organisms). They also will often face a high level of complexity in ecological interactions. Examples of these complex ecological impacts include the following:

NPPOs face many challenges in recognizing and assessing such ecological complexities. There needs to be cooperation between agencies (at agency level or at an individual level), involvement of stakeholders, sharing of information on ecological impacts of invasive alien species and flexibility in approaches.

NPPOs deserve the support and encouragement of the international community in tackling the difficulties of maximizing biodiversity outcomes. Support for their efforts is available. The Invasive Species Specialist Group, for example, provides technical and policy advice and facilitates exchange of information and expertise about prevention, control and eradication of invasive alien species.

Web tools relating to invasive species in North America

Discover Life ( is a Web site that offers tools for users to gather and share information about nature. These Web-based tools for species identification, reporting and distribution mapping could help manage invasive species and improve plant protection. Interactive guides will be freely available to help users identify invasive species in North America. They will give teachers, students, interested citizens, land managers and scientists powerful tools to distinguish invasive species from each other and from their native look-alikes.

BioNET and capacity building in taxonomy

Taxonomy is fundamental to attempts to understand, conserve and sustainably use biodiversity, and to assess the biodiversity impacts of human actions, including the identification of when an introduced species represents an invasive or other risk. The end users of taxonomic information range from national park authorities to those promoting integrated pest management or undertaking environmental impact assessments. Identifications are needed urgently in ever increasing quantity worldwide, particularly for plant protection, quarantine services, biosafety and other agencies with responsibilities for minimizing and monitoring risks from planned and accidental species introductions.

The greatest mismatch between the need for taxonomy and available taxonomic capacity is in the biodiversity-rich but resource-poor countries of the developing world. BioNET-INTERNATIONAL is a global network of institutions and individuals dedicated to capacity building in the applied taxonomy needed to support development, conservation and poverty eradication programmes. BioNET is organized as a series of regional networks ("locally organized and operated partnerships", LOOPs) of developing country institutions, supported by a consortium of developed country institutions. Nine developing country LOOPs have been established to date. The LOOPs are permanent, government-endorsed structures formed by intergovernmental agreement to address national and regional taxonomic priorities.

LOOPs typically have partnership-based work programmes in the following five areas:

There are many areas where LOOPs could support or are already supporting implementation of the IPPC and invasive species programmes. They can, for example, train phytosanitary officers using regional expertise; undertake needs assessments in plant health; coordinate regional pest listing; support information sharing with a regional invasive species information hub; and pursue the development of automated identification systems for phytosanitary services.

Taxonomy capacity building in ASEAN

ASEANET, the Southeast Asian regional network (a LOOP) of BioNET, is endorsed by senior ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Its mission is capacity building in taxonomy and related sciences to enable ASEAN to manage its wealth of biodiversity for sustainable development, and to prepare member economies for compliance with the sanitary and phytosanitary provisions of the World Trade Organization.

The work programmes of ASEANET are:

As part of achieving sustainable development in the ASEAN region, its countries must have a detailed knowledge of their plant health status and be able to access information on the biology, distribution, host range and economic status of plant pests and pathogens. ASEANET, in collaboration with partner organizations, undertook three surveys to assess needs in ASEAN countries relating to institutional capacities (particularly those of NPPOs), diagnostic and taxonomic expertise, management of pest collections and related information management. Key findings of relevance to invasive alien species in agriculture were:

The studies indicated that ASEAN countries give high priority to technical assistance related to human resources (for pest risk analysis, diagnostic capabilities, exotic pest response and the inspection system) in contrast to technical assistance for buildings or equipment.

SAFRINET strategy for taxonomy capacity building

SAFRINET, the Southern African regional network (a LOOP) of BioNET, is endorsed by the 15 countries of the Southern African Development Community. In a workshop in 2002, the SADC countries noted that phytosanitary units in the region would benefit greatly from the taxonomic information held by other networks. One such benefit was the opportunity for remote identification of quarantine pests through use of the Internet and the specialist knowledge of advanced museums.

SAFRINET is working to achieve these SADC objectives. It was noted that inspectors of the SADC phytosanitary services positioned at borders do not have adequate facilities or manuals for identification of quarantine pests or invasive alien species. The approach is to facilitate the accessibility to the Internet so that remote identification services become possible. The immediate requirement is to develop new computer tools and computer-aided facilities for the phytosanitary services. Once operational, this initiative could be used in all developing countries for quick remote identification of organisms.

Inspectors positioned in the SADC region could help fulfil international hopes of effective inspection worldwide with respect to interceptions of quarantine pests or invasive alien species.

This digest consists of information extracted from section 7, together with some explanatory comment. For the full detail, argument, examples and supporting references, please refer to the following chapters 23 - 34.

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