Key tools for tackling invasive species

31 May 2011 | News story

Prevention, eradication and early detection system are key tools for tackling invasive species. This was the conclusion of the conference “The Challenge of Invasive Species and Destructive Insects” organised on the 24 May 2011 in the European Parliament. The event highlighted disastrous consequences of the proliferation of invasive species and shaped the necessary tools for putting an end to this plague.

“Invasive alien species should be regarded as one of the most important environmental topics in Europe. To stop their spread in Europe it is critical to act, and to act quickly,” argued MEP Gaston Franco, Chair of the conference “The Challenge of Invasive Species and Destructive Insects”.

One out of every ten introduced species becomes invasive due to their ability to compete with indigenous species. This worrying problem has a major impact not only on environment but also on the economy and health. As recalled by Pia Bucella, Director in DG Environment, 12 billion euros are lost every year due to invasive alien species while at the Global level it amounts to 1.4 trillion per year.

Surprisingly, there is no EU comprehensive instrument to tackle this problem. Local solutions are therefore implemented such as the ambitious strategy in the city of Nice (France) to cope with the devastating red palm weevil or the program to stop the invasion of grey squirrels in some parts of the UK.

Everybody agreed that prevention through communication, education and full involvement of the public combined with eradication and early detection system are powerful tools. Piero Genovesi from IUCN called for an Early Warning Rapid Response system enabling to share information globally and rapidly. Whatever the solution, both animal welfare and human ethics should be taken into account, according to Prof. Dirk Lips from the KUL University.

Organized by the Secretariat of the European Parliament Intergroup “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development”, run jointly by the European Bureau for Conservation and Development (EBCD) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the conferencebrought together high level International, European, national and regional experts.

For more information, please contact Mélanie Lamaison from EBCD.