Invasive alien species: the urban dimension

28 August 2013 | News story

Invasive alien species (IAS) pose a significant threat to biodiversity in Europe, and this threat is likely to increase in the future unless meaningful action is taken at all levels to control the introduction and establishment of these species and address those already introduced. IUCN has released a publication which compiles case studies from more than 15 European countries and beyond to showcase examples of concrete action at the urban level. 

The new publication was produced in view of the Conference 'Invasive alien species: the urban dimension' on 5 September 2013 at IUCN Headquarters, Switzerland. The main aim of the event – gathering more than 70 participants from all over Europe, from local and regional authorities to EU policy-makers, scientists and NGOs – was to present and analyse the problem of IAS in European urban areas and to exchange knowledge and best practices that contribute to solutions.

Metropolitan areas are particularly vulnerable to IAS, due to the amount of commodities arriving or passing through for trade and commercial activities which are key pathways for IAS. Specific problems that some IAS pose in urban areas are: allergenic (Common Ragweed), damage to monuments (Tree of Heaven), health issues (Tiger Mosquito), and landscape damage (Red Palm Weevil).

Urban environments, where major cultural centres, such as museums, universities, zoological and botanic gardens, are located, can play a key role in helping address the risks associated with biological invasions by contributing to raising awareness among citizens and decision-makers on the issue.

The publication includes 26 case studies which showcase a variety of approaches to control, manage and eradicate IAS and prevent their introduction and establishment in the urban environment. It was compiled by the IUCN European Union Representative Office in cooperation with the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group and based on contributions from local and regional authorities and scientific institutions from all over Europe.

With this publication, IUCN highlights the key role that local and regional authorities play in implementing national and international biodiversity targets and in addressing the risks associated with biological invasions.

This study anticipated the release of the new EU legislation on IAS. The legislation fulfills the commitments of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 calling for prevention and control measures on IAS and will hopefully provide a more harmonized and coordinated response to this challenge at EU level.


Mediterranean landscape