BES Invasive Species Group Meets to Consider Links to Policy

The BES Policy Officer yesterday attended the first day of a meeting in London of the British Ecological Society’s Invasive Species Special Interest Group. The topic for the meeting was “Linking Research and Practice”, with participants eager to find out how their work could better inform policy-making.

David Roy, Biological Records Centre, delivered the morning’s keynote presentation, focusing on the DAISIE (Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe) project. The project had revealed that over 11,000 species are ‘alien’ somewhere in Europe; many of these (60%) terrestrial plants. On average, one alien mammal introduction occurs in Europe each year, and data indicate that the rates of arrival of alien species in European countries are accelerating; a pattern seen for both invertebrates and vertebrates. Although there is no strategy for tackling invasive species at an EU level, a high level communique in 2008 paved the way for the introduction of a strategy in the future.

Olaf Booy, GB Non-Native Species Secretariat, discussed the GB Non-Native Species Framework Strategy, which sets out how invasive species should be tackled in Great Britain. In many respects, Olaf reported, GB is far ahead of other European countries in tackling invasive species, which can have large economic impacts and impacts on human health. The three pronged approach: prevention; detection and rapid response; limit and control populations, must also be accompanied by awareness raising amongst the public in order for the strategy to be effective. Olaf highlighted the research gaps in relation to many species, particularly regarding three key questions: can it establish?; what are the impacts?; what effect will climate change have? He called on the research community to work with policy-makers to provide the answers.

The afternoon saw the BES Policy Officer deliver a brief presentation, introducing the work of the policy team to delegates, and a workshop to consider how policy-makers and practitioners could gain better access to research information. Participants highlighted networking as very important in building trust and collaborations. Policy-makers rarely read academic journals, instead accessing professional networks for copies of papers and information. Policy-makers present at the meeting suggested that digests of current scientific evidence in relation to particular issues, with respect to invasive species, would be extremely helpful. This is something the BES could consider providing in the future.