Section 8 looks at information access and sharing both as an obligation under the International Plant Protection Convention and as a critical element of risk identification and management of invasive alien species.
Chapter 35 discusses IPPC obligations for information exchange and the development of the International Phytosanitary Portal. Chapters 36 and 37 outline information sources offered and developed by two regional plant protection organizations, namely the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization and North American Plant Protection Organization. Chapter 38 describes sources of information on invasive species for the South Pacific region. Chapter 39 outlines the information sources and services provided by one international organization, CAB International, and how these can support implementation of the IPPC.
International Phytosanitary Portal
The information exchange obligations for contracting parties to the IPPC involve pest reports, the description of the national plant protection organization, phytosanitary restrictions, requirements and prohibitions, points of entry, lists of regulated pests, emergency actions and official contact points. The IPPC Secretariat provides a forum for contracting parties to easily enter the information from their own reporting obligations as well as access the information from other contracting parties. This "International Phytosanitary Portal" is at www.ippc.int.
The site is evolving so that it offers contracting parties the ability to fulfil reporting obligations, including pest reporting. Search facilities, security and password-protected areas are being improved. Specific issues relating to the management of invasive alien species will be considered in future developments of the IPP.
EPPO information sources
Chapter 36 outlines the information sources EPPO offers:
on paper (other than books) - a scientific journal, conference papers, annual report, news items, texts and summaries of phytosanitary regulations
as published books - notably Quarantine pests for Europe, together with distribution maps and illustrations of the pests
as electronic software - EPPT database of names of pests and plants, PQR information system of quarantine pests, PRS information system of phytosanitary regulations of member countries
on the EPPO Web site (www.eppo.org) - information about the organization and its work.
Information available on the Web site of particular relevance to risk identification and management of invasive alien species includes an alert list of pests that present a new or unexpected risk to the EPPO region and a list of biological control agents widely used in the region and found to have no undesirable side-effects on the environment.
EPPO has now created a geographical information system for the territory covered by its European and Mediterranean members, including all of Russia. This will be used for finer within-country mapping of quarantine pests and invasive species in the region.
NAPPO's exotic pest information
NAPPO has developed a Phytosanitary Alert System Web site (www.pestalert.org) to increase awareness of exotic pest threats to North America by providing information on significant emerging pest situations globally. Large amounts of exotic pest data are obtained from sources worldwide and scanned for relevance to the three member countries of NAPPO.
Developments of the alert system aim to use data-mining technologies so that analysts spend less time on data acquisition and more on evaluation. Automated "biosurveillance" technologies are being refined. These are able to filter open-source intelligence worldwide and identify emerging plant and animal disease threats. They are capable not only of confirming or refuting information obtained from other sources but also of improving existing understanding or providing new information.
In other developments, the Web site has been established as the reporting repository of NAPPO, providing member countries with the ability to fulfil their pest reporting obligations in accordance with the IPPC. The Web site now offers pest alerts, pest news stories and official pest reports.
South Pacific information on invasive alien species
Chapter 38 lists organizations, programmes and resources that provide sources of information on invasive alien species in the South Pacific region. The list includes the Secretariat of the Pacific Community, CAB International's Crop Protection Compendium, the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk project, Global Invasive Species Programme, Invasive Species Specialist Group and its Global Invasive Species Database, as well as two listservers (Aliens-L and PestNet).
CAB International's role in technical assistance
An intergovernmental organization whose member countries are contracting parties to the IPPC, CABI is well placed to provide assistance in implementation of the convention. Chapter 39 describes five areas of activity:
publication of information products, including books, journals, bibliographic databases and the Crop Protection Compendium
taxonomy, including a plant health clinic for developing countries, development of multi-access keys, molecular detection methods and training
networking through formal networks such as BioNET-INTERNATIONAL, support to regional bodies such as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and coordination of regional and international projects
information provision in support of standard setting, including an overview of standard-setting procedures in international bodies, the study described in chapter 24 and inputs to IPPC working groups
the Global Invasive Species Programme, which includes a working group on global information exchange and which is an international focal point for information dissemination under the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Several of CABI's published books are relevant to invasive alien species, notably Invasive plant species of the world: a reference guide to environmental weeds. The Crop Protection Compendium now includes a pest risk analysis module and is being substantially expanded in response to demand for more information on invasive species and forest and timber pests. The outputs of the Global Invasive Species Programme include publications devoted to the subject of invasive alien species and a database of invasive species (www.issg.org/database).
A further facility for information exchange, not covered in chapters 35-39, is the CBD's Clearing-House Mechanism, which was created pursuant to Article 18 of the CBD to promote and facilitate technical and scientific cooperation between parties to the CBD. The Clearing-House Mechanism has three primary objectives: cooperation, promotion and facilitation of technical and scientific cooperation; information exchange; and network development. In addition, the Biosafety Clearing-House has been established, pursuant to Article 20 of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
Information services and tools have been developed to assist in the implementation of the CBD's programme of work pertaining to invasive alien species. Specific activities include:
publication of recommendations related to the network infrastructure of the global invasive species information network (see Report of the Joint Convention on Biological Diversity/Global Invasive Species Programme Informal Meeting on Formats, Protocols and Standards for Improved Exchange of Biodiversity-related Information, UNEP/CBD/COP/6/INF/18)
development of the Invasive Alien Species Portal in cooperation with GISP to allow contracting parties to the CBD, other governments and other relevant organizations to share IAS-related information with parties to the convention and other governments
development of the national thematic reports analyser, which allows parties and stakeholders to mine information in the invasive alien species thematic reports
a database of case studies on invasive alien species.
The Clearing-House Mechanism also is collaborating in the development of species profile schema development in support of the establishment of the global invasives species information network.
This digest consists of information extracted from section 8, together with some explanatory comment and information supplied by the CBD. For the full detail, argument, examples and supporting references, please refer to the following chapters 35 - 39 and www.biodiv.org.