The fight against invasive alien species (IAS) is one of the six priorities of the European Biodiversity Strategy: "Biodiversity, our life insurance and our cultural capital - EU Strategy 2020" (2011).
Target 5 in fact provides that between now and 2020:
- the IAS and their pathways must be identified and handled on a priority basis;
- the main species are controlled or eradicated, and pathways are controlled to prevent the introduction and establishment of new species.
It is therefore essential to be able to act on the introduction of the IAS not as yet present in the European territory but also manage those that are already present on European soil.
This is the objective pursued by Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 which came into force in the European Union in January 2015.
Species of special concern in the EU
This regulation sets out the rules intended to prevent, minimise and limit the destructive effects on biodiversity of the introduction and propagation of invasive alien species considered to be of concern in the Member States of the Union.
The “concerning” character of an invasive alien species is determined after an evaluation of the risks carried out according to objective criteria. These scientific studies are generally carried out by the Member States even though the European Commission may also carry them out under the terms of the Regulation.
Regulation n° 1143/2014 lays down a list of the invasive alien species of special concern for the European Union. It is an evolving list, regularly updated to reflect the emergence of new problem species in the EU.
36 plants and 29 animals are currently included in the European lists of species of special concern.
New obligations for Member States
The regulation imposes a series of new obligations on Member States.
They are tasked with the following actions for every species included on the list:
- Prohibition of their import and sale;
- Prohibition of their keeping and breeding;
- Prohibition of their introduction into nature.
In addition, the Member States are also tasked with taking measures targeting the species included on the list in order to:
- put in place action plans intended to limit their introduction and accidental spread;
- watch over the evolution of their presence on national territory;
- manage the populations present on the territory according to the level of invasion (rapid eradication measures for new emerging species, confinement and limitation measures for those more widely spread, etc.)
Implementation in Belgium
- The Regions are competent for the sale, keeping and possible elimination of the destructive species for the regional environment. These competences concern terrestrial, fresh water or estuary species located on their territory.
- The Federal level is competent for the import, export and transit of non-indigenous species as well as for the marine species in the North Sea.
To ensure the smooth implementation of the Regulation, the Federal State, the Communities and the Regions have concluded a cooperation agreement.
Good to know :
A national website features all the available information on invasive alien species in Belgium.