Urgent Action Needed to Tackle Non-Native Invasive Species in EU

A group of researchers have called for urgent action to be taken to tackle invasive alien species in Europe, as reported on the BBC website (Pamela Rutherford) and this morning’s Today Programme. The researchers, meeting for a conference in Copenhagen, have urged the EU to adopt a Europe-wide policy by next year at the latest, aimed at tackling the economic and ecological damage wreaked on Europe’s indiginous wildlife by non-native invasive species.

Giving an interview to the BBC, the Chair of the Invasive Species Specialist Group said that the estimate of 12 billion EUR of damage caused by invasive alien species was likely to be a significant underestimate of the true cost because the economic value of the biodiversity lost through invasive species invasions was not included in this figure.

A 2008 inventory found 10,000 invasive non-native species in Europe, and colonisations have increased rapidly over the last 30 years.

At last week’s BES Annual Meeting in Leeds, delegates heard a presentation from CABI in which the preliminary results of the trial to combat Japanese Knotweed via biological control were discussed. The cost to combat the spread of Japanese Knotweed in the UK was estimated to be £1.56 billion presently. CABI has released a psyllid, Aphalara itadori, a natural enemy of the weed, at three paired sites in Southern England and is currently monitoring these sites intensively. Although few psyllids have been observed since release, researchers speculate that this is due to a dilution effect, with few psyllids released into the very large patches of Knotweed present. As a result CABI will carry out further releases of Aphalara, to create a higher psyllid density. Tests have shown that the psyllid is host specific so the research team is confident that further releases will have an effect.