Indicators for monitoring biological invasions at a national level.

Published online
29 May 2019
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
Journal of Applied Ecology

Wilson, J. R. U. & Faulkner, K. T. & Rahlao, S. J. & Richardson, D. M. & Zengeya, T. A. & Wilgen, B. W. van
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Publication language
Africa South of Sahara & Africa & South Africa


A major challenge for the management of biological invasions is to ensure that data and information from basic inventories and ecological research are used alongside data from the monitoring and evaluation of interventions to trigger and improve policy and management responses. To address this issue, South Africa has committed to report on the status of biological invasions and their management every 3 years. We propose a framework of indicators for reporting on biological invasions at a country level; assess the feasibility of the indicators using South Africa as a case study; and outline steps needed for indicator development. We argue that a national status report on biological invasions should explicitly consider indicators for pathways, species, and sites, and should report on interventions in terms of inputs, outputs, and outcomes. We propose 20 indicators based on data currently available, as well as existing international policy initiatives. For each indicator, we have developed a factsheet that includes different hierarchical metrics (considering data availability) and provide suggestions on assigning confidence levels. We also combine these indicators into four high-level indicators to facilitate broader reporting and describe how forecasted indicators based on the concept of invasion debt could assist with scenario planning. We found that many of the data required for these indicators are already available in South Africa, but they have been poorly collated to date. However, data for the indicators of most direct value to policy and planning-those dealing with the impact of biological invasions and the outcome of interventions-are scarce. Policy implications. The framework of indicators developed here, for what we believe is the first ever national-level report on the status of biological invasions and their management, will facilitate the inclusion of biological invasions in environmental reporting at national and international levels. By identifying knowledge gaps, a status report will also focus efforts on determining the size of a country's invasion debt and what can be done to reduce it.

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