Science first, say 235 experts on the EU proposal on invasive alien species

Today a group of 235 individual experts and organisations from 36 countries, including 23 EU Member States, published a joint statement calling on the European institutions to adopt a science-based approach for the EU-wide legislation on invasive alien species. The Call was coordinated jointly by BirdLife Europe, IUCN European Union Representative Office and Neobiota.

American bullfrog (Lithobates

“Invasive alien species have great impacts on biodiversity – at times determining dramatic declines in species’ populations. The latest scientific data on invasives needs to be taken into account when prioritising action by the EU. It is essential to know where and how species arrive into Europe, how they are spreading, and their actual and potential impact to ensure that action is effective”, said Piero Genovesi, Chair of IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group. “We support the creation of a Scientific Review Group to assist the implementation of the legislation”.

The Joint Call for a science-based approach on the European Commission’s proposal for a Regulation on invasive alien species was signed by representatives of universities, research institutes and conservation organisations. Together they unite many of the leading experts on invasive alien species in Europe and beyond.

The signatories welcome the important step taken by the Commission with its proposal and recognise that a coordinated international framework is essential for effective action at EU and national levels. However, they believe that strategies and policies on invasive alien species should be guided by the latest knowledge to ensure that action is taken where most needed. Failing to effectively address invasives would mean failing to meet the Convention on Biological Diversity and EU targets for 2020, and would represent a missed opportunity to address a major driver of biodiversity loss.

Carles Carboneras, Species Policy Officer – Invasive Non-native Species, RSPB (BirdLife partner in the United Kingdom) stated “A coherent system based on the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity is the best approach to achieve the objectives of conserving biological diversity and minimising the socio-economic impacts of IAS. To achieve these objectives, the Regulation needs to apply to a representative number of species, including species which are not yet in the EU but may be in the future. Predicting what may come and designing actions to prevent new colonisations requires the best available knowledge, something which only science can provide.”

Invasive Alien Species are responsible for damage to biodiversity, ecosystem services, economies and human well-being to an estimated cost of more than 12 billion Euros yearly in the EU.

1. Call for a science-based approach concerning the EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species: 
2. The European Commission proposal for an EU Regulation to tackle the problem of IAS (COM(2013) 620 final)
3. The Call was signed by: 219 individuals, 16 organisations, 36 countries (incl. 23 EU Member States)
4. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Target 9 calls for: “By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritised, priority species are controlled or eradicated and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment”. The EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 incorporated this objective in Target 5.
5. The damage caused by IAS in the EU is more than 12 billion Euros yearly - link

Capping Progress on Invasive Species?, letter in Science 342, November 2013 by Carboneras (Birdlife), Walton (Birdlife) and Vilá (Neobiota) - link

Contact:  Liza Drius, EU Communications Coordinator, IUCN European Union Representative Office, phone: +32 2 739 0318, email:


BirdLife Europe is a Partnership of nature conservation organisations in 48 countries, including all EU Member States, and a leader in bird conservation. Through its unique local to global approach BirdLife Europe delivers high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people.

IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organisation with more than 1,200 government and NGO members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. The EU Representative Office coordinates IUCN’s work towards the EU institutions. The Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) is a global network of about 200 scientific and policy experts on invasive species from over 40 countries, organised under the auspices of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of IUCN.,

NEOBIOTA, the European Group on Biological Invasions, is a consortium of scientists and environmental managers aiming to enhance integration of invasion research and strengthen approaches to counteract negative effects of introduced organisms on biodiversity, ecosystem services and human health. It publishes ‘NeoBiota’, a peer-reviewed, open-access, online journal covering research on alien species and biological invasions.


Work area: 
Global Policy
Red List
Marine species
Regional species initiatives
Invasive species
Biodiversity indicators
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