The European Commission opens a consultation on the invasive alien species

The European Commission is considering ways to tackle the invasive alien species and it is therefore gathering opinions among the interested parts. Currently, there are many cases where animals and plants have been introduced to an environment that is not naturally theirs, such as Canada geese, American bullfrogs, Japanese knotweed, and are now spreading so fast that they become a threat to biological diversity.

The public consultation launched by the European Commission on the invasive alien species intends to gather views on how tackling this problem. The Commission is requesting opinions on the existing measures to prevent them from entering our territory and spreading are fragmented and not sufficient to substantially lower the risks. The Commission is therefore attempting to close this gap with an approach based on three pillars that match the approach proposed by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity: first of all, prevention; then early detection and rapid response; and, in the last resort, eradication or management of their presence to minimise negative impacts.

In particular, the consultation asks for views on how to tailor this approach to realities on the ground, and it covers issues such as possible trade restrictions, labelling schemes, surveillance mechanisms, eradication measures and restoration of damaged ecosystems. The consultation is also part of the new strategy to halt biodiversity loss launched by the Commission in May 2011.

To date, more than 11,000 alien species have been found in the European environment and 10 to 15% of them have become invasive. The problem is thought to be the second biggest threat to biodiversity, after habitat loss. Introductions of alien species are the result of voluntary or accidental human action. While many introduced species bring considerable benefits to society and our economy, others upset the balance of ecosystems and proliferate in ways that are highly destructive.