Introduction to Invasive Alien Species

Invasive alien species (IAS) are non-native species that are introduced deliberately or unintentionally in areas outside their natural habitats, where they become established, proliferate and spread, causing damage to the environment. Implementation requirements from multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) focus on the prevention of the introduction of IAS and the control and eradication of those IAS, which nonetheless become established to threaten ecosystems, habitats or native species that may be endangered.

The module is divided into seven sections:

  • Assessments: including risk assessment, impact assessment, presence of IAS, identification, reporting and indicators.
  • Legislative measures and national policies: including national strategies.
  • Management: including the prevention and eradication of IAS, rehabilitation and restoration, and other non-legislative approaches.
  • Economic instruments: including incentives
  • Provision of resources: including funding activities and capacity building.
  • Communication, education and public awareness: including training
  • Cooperation: including coordination across sectors

Each section is divided into activities. Activities are ordered to begin with the general obligations on Parties regarding IAS, followed by the more specific obligations, these often focus at a specific initiative or ecosystem. It is anticipated that this order would allow a user to start at the beginning of each section and work his or her way through in a logical order. Under specific activities, relevant articles of MEAs are listed first followed by decisions, resolutions, etc., which occur in chronological order, with the most recent obligations listed first.

The obligations are presented as either directly relevant or indirectly relevant. Directly relevant obligations are those that explicitly refer to IAS and have to be implemented when dealing with IAS. Indirectly relevant obligations are those that should be taken into consideration in dealing with IAS issues, but do not necessarily refer to IAS. The word obligation as used in this module is not confined to obligations listed under the said agreements for which non-compliance would result in some form of legal sanction as defined within each agreement. The term is used rather to refer to activities that Parties to each agreement are expected to carry out in order to fulfil the objectives of each agreement.

Where appropriate, commentary has been provided to highlight: i) synergy that may occur between obligations; ii) obligations that may need to be addressed together; and iii) to highlight elements of a CBD programme of work or guideline that is most relevant to a particular activity.

Within this module, IAS also includes ‘exotic species’ (referred to in the older obligations for some MEAs), ‘non-native species’ and ‘invasive pests’. This module does not include obligations related to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or viruses. It is envisaged that a module will be developed in the future on GMOs.

The following MEAs were reviewed to create the global components of this module:

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • Convention on Wetlands of International Importance as Waterfowl Habitats (Ramsar)
  • Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
  • World Heritage Convention (WHC)
  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD)
  • Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement)
  • Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus)
  • International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM)
  • International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
  • United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety was also considered during the development of this module. However, no specific requirements in relation to IAS were identified. In addition, while the most recent obligations (2002 to present) of the WHC have been reviewed, earlier obligations under the Convention are yet to be studied and included in the module. It is recognised that the MEAs reviewed in this module is not a complete list of those, which are concerned with IAS. Other MEAs will be reviewed and incorporated at a later date, such as the Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context (ESPOO).

To have a better understanding of the structure and elements of the module, an overview has been provided for ease of navigation. The navigation bar on the left of the page can be used to go directly to specific sections within the module.

Regional parts for Europe and African have also been developed for this module. Regional obligations have been embedded within the global modules sections and activities. The sort function at the end of each page for the activity currently displayed to be restricted to global obligations, regional obligations or both global and regional obligations.

Regional treaties drawn on to develop the European regional part of this module are:

  • European Union Bird Directive
  • European Union Regulation Number 338/97 of 9 December 1996
  • Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention)
  • Kiev Resolution on Biodiversity (2003)

Regional treaties reviewed to develop the African regional part are currently from East Africa and are:

  • African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA)
  • Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Environmental Management (MOU of CEM)
  • New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
  • Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)
  • Convention on Lake Victoria Fisheries Organisation (CLVFO)
  • Convention for the Protection, Management of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the East African Region (CPMDMC of EA)
  • Protocol Concerning Protected Areas and Wild Fauna and Flora in the Eastern African region (PPAWFEA)
  • Protocol on Shared Watercourse Systems in the Southern African Development Community (SADC Protocol on Shared Water systems)

The treaties included in the regional parts are representative for each region and are by no means completed. It is recognised that there are many more regional treaties, which contain obligations for IAS, and these will be incorporated at a later date.