No tree species on IAS list of Union concern
With the Regulation on Invasive Alien Species (IAS) entering into force on 1 January 2015, a Committee of EU Member States representatives together with a scientific forum has been tasked to draw up a list of invasive alien species of Union concern. While the adoption of this list is expected for November this year, Europe’s forest owners will be relieved to know that for the moment no tree species have been listed.

Invasive Alien Species are animals and plants that are introduced accidently or deliberately into a natural environment where they are not normally found, with serious negative consequences for their new environment. As they represent a major threat to native plants and animals in Europe, the Commission estimates IAS to cause damages worth billions of Euros every year.

Following the adoption by the European Parliament in April 2014 (for more information please refer to the CEPF online news ‘EP plenary adopts Invasive Alien Species legislation’), the Regulation on invasive alien species was published in the official journal on 4 November 2014 (1143/2014). This Regulation seeks to address the problem of invasive alien species in a comprehensive manner so as to protect native biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as to minimize and mitigate the human health or economic impacts that these species can have.

The regulation foresees three types of interventions; prevention, early detection and rapid eradication, and management. A list of invasive alien species of Union concern will be drawn up and managed with Member States using risk assessments and scientific evidence.

The implementation of the Regulation is supported by a Committee made up of representatives of all Member States. Furthermore, advice on scientific questions related to the implementation of the Regulation is provided through a Scientific Forum with representatives of the scientific community appointed by the Member States. A Working Group on Invasive Alien Species (WGIAS) is reconvened and its membership renewed, so as to have an operational group providing concrete input to the implementation of the Regulation, while ensuring fair and representative participation.

Latest information from the Commission reveals that the latest draft list of Union concern, which has been drawn up with the support of the above-mentioned mentioned Committee and Scientific Forum and is due to be adopted in November later this year, does not entail any tree species. Against the backdrop of a changing climate and the, thus, growing importance of drought resistant species such as Douglas fir or Eucalyptus spp., Europe’s forest owners will be relieved about this information.