European Newsletter
October 2013
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Dear Members, Dear Readers,

As the second largest cause for biodiversity loss worldwide, biological invasions are a major concern which requires an urgent, effective and coordinated response. Invasive Alien Species (IAS) can reduce biodiversity, and affect our health and economy. In Europe alone, more than 1,500 species are reported to cause damage.


Preventing invasions is certainly the best way to stop the negative impacts of these species, however there is also need to tackle existing invasions. The recent proposal by the European Commission for a Regulation to combat IAS is a first step towards coordinating action at EU level and recognizing the cross-boundary nature of the problem.


Editorial by Luc Bas, Director of IUCN European Union Representative Office


> Read more
Luc Bas

What are Invasive Alien Species?

Among the many threats that biodiversity has to face, Invasive Alien Species (IAS) are acknowledged to be one of the most serious and most difficult to reverse. IAS are animals, plants and other organisms introduced by human action, either accidentally or deliberately, outside their natural range of distribution where they get established and disperse causing damages to native species. In Europe, according to the European Red List, almost 1 in 5 threatened species are affected by IAS.


IAS can also affect human life and health, and cause serious economic damage to agriculture, forestry and fisheries, which is estimated to be at least 12 billion Euros per year in Europe alone (EEA report 2012). IUCN’s work on IAS is supported by the Invasive Species Specialist Group established in 1994 as part of the Species Survival Commission. 

> Invasive Species Specialist Group
> Species Survival Commission
> IUCN's work on invasive species
American red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans)

Some of the worst Invasives in Europe

One hundred of the worst Invasive Alien Species have been identified in the Global Invasive Species Database. These have been selected at a global level according to two criteria: their serious impact on biological diversity and/or human activities, and their illustration of important issues surrounding biological invasion.


Among the one hundred worst global species, some negatively impact Europe. A recent report by the European Environment Agency, in partnership with IUCN ISSG, presents a number of species which affect Europe’s biodiversity, economy, health and ecosystem services. 


A first example is the Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), a highly successful colonizer native to Southern Europe (Iberian Peninsula) and possibly Northwest Africa now widely spread throughout Europe.....

> Read more
Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus)

INTERVIEW with MEP Poc: EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species

MEP Pavel Poc (Group of Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats) is a member of the ENVI (Environment, Public Health and Food Safety) Committee at the European Parliament and has recently been nominated as the Rapporteur for the proposed Invasive Alien Species Regulation.


Q: The European Commission has recently tabled its long-awaited proposal for a Regulation on Invasive Alien Species (IAS). What are the strong points of this proposal from your point of view? 

The strongest point is the very fact that this legislation was even tabled. The proposal is properly focused on prevention, early monitoring and fast eradication in Member States...

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MEP Pavel Poc

European Commission move to tackle invasive species a good start but more needed

The new legislative proposal released recently by the European Commission aims to ensure coordinated action at the EU level to curb the impacts of invasive alien species. IUCN, uniting some of the leading experts on this subject in Europe, welcomes the new proposal but highlights some concerns.


“The proposal by the European Commission paves the way for more, better and coordinated action in Europe and its overseas entities to tackle invasive alien species,” said Luc Bas, Director of IUCN European Union Representative Office. “The prevention, early-warning systems, eradication and control measures included in the proposal, and supported by IUCN experts, go in the right direction. However, there are some elements which still need to be clarified, such as the process for identifying priority species.”

> Read more
The Spanish slug (Arion vulgaris) is becoming a real nuisance in Nordic European countries where it has been recently introduced as it feeds on horticultural plants in private kitchen and vegetable gardens and in agricultural fields.

Urban areas and biological invasions: what can cities do about it?

IUCN has brought together key actors from all over Europe at a conference aiming to exchange knowledge and best practices to reduce the risk of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in urban areas.


Following the recent publication of a compilation of case studies on IAS in urban areas, IUCN held a conference where some of these studies were presented and discussed. As metropolitan areas are particularly vulnerable to IAS and serve as entry pathways, the key objective of the event was to analyse the issue of IAS from an urban perspective to understand the challenges which cities face and present solutions.

> Read more
> IUCN Publication "Invasive alien species: the urban dimension"

BLOG: Invasive alien species are sneaking into our cities

Working on urban biodiversity, everyday challenging questions are posed: "Can biodiversity be found in cities?", "Why worry about urban areas in our fight for nature protection?", "Why are these beautiful, colourful parakeets in our parks not allowed to stay?"


The answers to these questions are not simple. We live in an urbanized world. By 2050 the global urban population is estimated to be 6.3 billion. Today in Europe four-fifths of people live in urban areas, which brings an immense flow of international trade and travel across seaways, airways and roads... 


Read this blog post by Chantal van Ham, European Programme Officer at IUCN’s EU Representative Office, here

Invasive species introduced accidentally in shipping containers, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Invasive alien plants and pests: the communication challenge

The general public is rarely aware of what pests and invasive alien plants are, and what damage they can cause. Raising awareness among the society is an indispensable step for fully addressing the issue. 


The European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO), in cooperation with the Council of Europe, the European Environment Agency and the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group will organize a workshop focusing on the challenges faced when communicating on pests and invasive alien plants from 8 to 10 October 2013.

> Read more
Alien Invasive Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes) which has spread around the entire tropics and is now moving north into southern Europe as Climate Change makes conditions suitable for it.

Croatia: a country of more than 1,000 islands

Located in South-Eastern Europe, Croatia is the youngest member of the European Union, as of 1 July 2013. Thanks to its geographical location and morphology, Croatia encompasses three biogeographical regions, out of nine recognized in the EU. Vast plains in the east, dense forests which cover more than 35% of the central territory and more than 1,000 islands in the Adriatic host Croatia’s extraordinary biodiversity.


The most famous biogeographical region present in the country is certainly the Mediterranean, located along the Eastern coast of the crystal-clear Adriatic Sea. The exact number of species and subspecies that really live or breed in the Adriatic is still not known. According to a very rough estimation, between six and seven thousand species of flora and fauna may live in the Croatian part of Adriatic Sea, of which more than 5,500 invertebrates.

> Country Focus Croatia
> Country Focus Mayotte
National Park Brijuni

Mainstreaming conservation in Europe’s policy-making

European Parliament Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development Integration of nature conservation as part of the solution to societal challenges is key to stopping biodiversity loss, and it is very much needed. This is the main outcome of the Conference “Meeting the EU 2020 Biodiversity Targets: Mainstreaming Conservation” organized by the EP Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development on 24 September 2013, in Brussels.
> Read more


BiodivERsA Policy Brief #1: Wildlife diseases on the increase

BiodivERsA Policy Brief #1 - RACE This Policy Brief underlines the need to address the problems posed by the increasing spread and impact of wildlife diseases in Europe by developing and adopting adequate policies.
> Read more


BiodivERsA Policy Brief #2: Managing habitats for land use and climate change adaption

BiodivERsA Policy Brief #2 - CLIMIT This Policy Brief focuses on the conservation of threathened and vulnerable insects in the context of changing land use and climate and provides recommendations to help reach the targets of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy.
> Read more


IUCN SEE Bulletin

Read the latest news on IUCN's work in South-Eastern Europe.
> Latest issues


Nature+ road ahead

Valbona Valley National Park, Bjeshkët e Namuna/Prokletije Mountains, Albania The overall objective of IUCN in South-Eastern Europe is to work towards the long-term protection of biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources. Advocating for nature-based solutions to development challenges and encouraging cross-border cooperation, IUCN will strive to shape a sustainable future for the people and nature in the region.
> Read more


New era for UK's peatlands

Blanket bog of the Flow Country, Forsinard, UK United Kingdom’s Minister for the Environment Richard Benyon announced a new initiative for peatland conservation at the IUCN UK Peatland Programme’s conference in York on 10-12 September 2013. The Peatland Code will help companies contribute to peatland restoration.
> Read more


Launch of the "Cities and Biodiversity Outlook"

Invitation to the launch of the Scientific Foundationfrom the project Cities and Biodiversity Outlook
The Cities and Biodiversity Outlook "Urbanization, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: Challenges and Opportunities - A Global Assessment " will be launched on 10 October in the framework of the OPEN DAYS 2013 - European Week of Regions and Cities in Brussels.
> Read more


Forty years working for nature: cheers to EUROPARC

EUROPARC 40 years working for nature The EUROPARC network will meet in Debrecen, Hungary, for its annual conference on 9-13 October 2013, during which the 40th anniversary of both EUROPARC Federation and their host, Hortobágy National Park, will be celebrated.
> Read more


All eyes on Marseille: IMPAC3 to start soon

Logo Every four years, the International Marine Protected Areas Congress (IMPAC) brings together major maritime stakeholders from around the globe to assist in the conservation and sustainable development of the oceans. The third edition of the Congress, co-organized by IUCN, will take place on 21-25 October. 
> Read more


URBES Training: monetary and non-monetary valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services

The Urbes Project logo The URBES project will be holding the first of its training sessions in Barcelona on 13-15 November 2013 focusing on the valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The URBES project seeks to bridge the knowledge gap between urbanisation, biodiversity and ecosystems services.
> Read more


World Forum on Natural Capital

Natural Capital Forum The first major global conference devoted to understanding the economic value of natural capital will happen in Edinburgh on 21-22 November 2013
> Read more


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IUCN (The International Union for Conservation of Nature) © 2013

IUCN helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN’s work focuses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN’s European region covers the European continent, North and Central Asia, and includes the European Union overseas entities. Representing one third of the global membership, this is IUCN’s largest programmatic region.

Photo credits: Luc Bas; American red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans), Riccardo Scalera; Rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus), Riccardo Scalera; The Spanish slug (Arion vulgaris), Riccardo Scalera; MEP Pavel Poc, Pavel Poc; Publication on "Invasive alien species: the urban dimension", IUCN; Invasive species introduced accidentally in shipping containers, Rotterdam, Netherlands,Jeffrey McNeely/IUCN; Water Hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), IUCN; National Park Brijuni, NP Brijuni Archive; Logo, European Parliament Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development; BiodivERsA policy brief: Wildlife diseases on the increase, IUCN; BiodivERsA policy brief: Managing habitats for land use and climate change adaption, IUCN; Valbona Valley National Park, Bjeshkët e Namuna/Prokletije Mountains, Albania, IUCN/B.Erg; Blanket bog of the Flow Country, Forsinard, UK, RSPB; Invitation to the launch of the Scientific Foundation from the project Cities and Biodiversity Outlook, IUCN; Logo, EUROPARC 40 years working for nature; Logo, IMPAC3; Logo, The Urbes Project; Logo, World Forum on Natural Capital.