Like many other environmental matters, the obligations related to invasive alien species (IAS) first find their source at the international level. To be more precise, it is necessary to refer to several legally binding conventions, of which the most known is the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Other international legal instruments also deal with the IAS issue. We can for example mention the Council of Europe (international organisation different from the European Union) which has developed a European strategy on invasive alien species under the Bern Convention on the Conservation of Wildlife and natural Environment of Europe.
These obligations are then broken down at the European level, within the framework of the European Union. Since 2015, a regulation has organised the prevention and management of the introduction and propagation of invasive alien species (IAS) in the Member States of the Union.
Each State must therefore execute at the national level the various obligations outlined within the international or European sphere.
In Belgium, the division of powers with regard to environment also affects the management of the IAS since it is the regions (Wallonia / Flanders (INBO and LNE) / Brussels) that are primarily responsible for the conservation of nature. They are therefore responsible for the management of IAS in their territory.
However, there are two notable exceptions where the federal government retains jurisdiction:
- on the one hand, for the import, export and transit of IAS, within the framework of its broader jurisdiction regarding the import, export and transit of non-native animal species and plant species and their remains (art. 6, §1, III, 2° of the Law of 08 August 1980 of institutional reforms);
- secondly, in the context of its responsibility to the marine environment that falls under the jurisdiction of Belgium (North Sea).