Pan European Networks - Government - page 202

Pan European Networks: Government
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202
ENVIRONMENT
PROFILE
I
nvasive non-native species (INS), such as Japanese knotweed
and American mink, have been introduced with the aid of
humans and cause damage to our environment and economy.
At a global level INS are believed to be one of the most significant
causes of biodiversity loss – second only to habitat destruction.
Their economic impact is also significant. A recent study by the
European Environment Agency (EEA) estimated that the cost of
INS across Europe is at least €12bn a year. Despite the severe
damage that these species are causing, there is still a lack of a
co-ordinated effort to reduce their impacts and spread across
Europe. New legislation that is currently making its way through
the European Parliament should go some way to rectifying this
situation, but will only be effective if member states collaborate
closely with one another to shut off pathways of spread and new
policies are developed based on sound scientific evidence, rather
than pressure from interest groups.
The RINSE (Reducing the Impacts of Non-native Species in
Europe) project, funded through the Interreg 2 Seas programme,
aims to increase co-operation and share best practice between
key organisations involved in the management of INS in the 2
Seas area. This area encompasses the coastal region of southern
England, northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands, an area
with broadly similar geography and pathways of spread for INS.
The area also contains several of the largest commercial ports in
Europe, including Southampton, Rotterdam and Antwerp, which
increases the likelihood of introductions of novel species to the
area. The project brings together a partnership of nine diverse
organisations. It is made up of both researchers and practitioners,
with NGOs, research institutes, local authorities and national-level
government agencies all being represented within the project.
The objectives of the RINSE project are to:
n
Develop cross-border tools to improve prioritisation and
targeting of INS, so that scarce resources can be directed
towards the species and sites of greatest concern;
n
Enhance awareness and capacity to address INS within a
range of key cross-border target audiences; and
n
Develop new approaches and promote best practice for the
management of INS, by delivering field trials and
demonstration projects.
These objectives are interlinked and mutually supportive, with the
effect of the whole project being far greater than the sum of its parts.
Predicting and preventing future invasions
It is widely accepted that by far the cheapest and most efficient
way to tackle the threats posed by INS is to prevent them from
becoming established in the first place. The more knowledge we
have about species moving towards our area that are likely to
become invasive in the future, and the pathways by which those
species spread, the better placed we are to prevent them from
establishing and spreading.
To help provide us with this knowledge, the University of
Cambridge was awarded a contract by the RINSE partnership to
complete a prioritisation and ‘horizon scanning’ exercise for INS.
Thanks to the in-depth research carried out by Dr Belinda
Gallardo and Dr Alexandra Zieritz, under the supervision of Dr
David Aldridge, we are now able to state with confidence that the
2 Seas area is a ‘hotspot’ for invasive species. At least 30% of all
the non-native species registered in Europe by DAISIE
present in the 2 Seas area, despite it
representing only 9.7% of the total area. Of more concern is the
fact that 77% of the worst INS identified in this study have already
been detected in the 2 Seas area.
Another invaluable output from this study was the creation of
invasion ‘heat maps’ for over 70 non-native species. These heat
maps combine data on a species’ environmental preferences with
the socioeconomic status of an area; a factor that can
significantly increase the likelihood of invasion. If these maps are
laid over one another then you can also start to build up a picture
of ‘hotspots’ for invasion within the region.
Repel the invaders
Invasive non-native species are causing significant damage in Europe. The RINSE
project aims to improve the management of these species in a project area
spanning England, France, the Netherlands and Belgium
Heat map for alert species
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