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Newsletter February 2015

Aliens stay out! Guarding against invasive non-native species in European coastal zones

How do we keep invasive species out of our coastal areas, preserve the local biodiversity and avoid negative consequences for the economy caused by alien species? A constructive cross-border collaboration between policy, science and stakeholders. An online European information system. Early detection and control. Consciousness-raising and communication. These were the conclusions from the first phase of the SE FINS project. In a second phase, the consortium will rise to the challenge of achieving those goals in four European estuaries.

invasive speciesInvasive alien species (IAS) are plants or animals that arrive, usually by human influence, outside of their natural environment and cause a negative impact on their new environment. They are one of the biggest causes of biodiversity loss and often cause enormous damage to the environment, economy and health. Despite the growing threat and increasing concern among policy and science, thus far only few concerted efforts can be found to reduce their impact and spread in Europe. For an efficient approach against IAS, a new EU regulation has just come into force (as of January 1 2015). This provides actions for prevention, early detection-rapid response and management of the most worrying IAS. The Interreg clusterproject SE FINS was launched to cater to this new regulation through the creation of a new network of expertise on the issues of IAS in the coastal zone: on land, in freshwater and in the marine environment.

In the first phase of the project, the partners made an evaluation of the present knowledge for inventarisation, detection, management and communication about already identified IAS. The main conclusion of this phase was that there was an urgent need to close some knowledge gaps. Four themes were identified for further research and attention. Within the theme of "knowledge transfer, training and advice" particular attention should be paid to constructive cooperation between policy, science and stakeholders. By closing the knowledge gap between academics and practitioners, it is possible to prevent introductions of IAS, to detect species at an early stage and to use efficient management. A second theme concerns "data sets": an online European information system is needed that is coordinated by experts in all ecological niches and which is accessible to all stakeholders. A third gap was "risk management and impact assessment", where systematic and efficient methods are required for prevention, early detection and prediction in combination with control techniques, monitoring and communication. Last, "citizen science and consciousness-raising" highlights the distance between the general public and policy. Cross-border cooperation and the use of communication and tools adapted to the specific requirements of the target groups are necessary. There is also a physical gap within IAS management and within the SE FINS cluster. Concerted efforts for the management of estuarine IAS is lacking and must be addressed. The estuarine zone, an important transitional area between the marine and freshwater environment, often escapes the attention of research and policy.

In the second phase, started on January 1st, 2015, work will continue on the above-noted gaps for a better management of these IAS in the long term. In practice, four estuaries within the Interreg 2 Seas area will be examined, namely the Scheldt (B / NL), Maas (B), Wash (UK) and Canche (FR). Work will be done on developing a cross-border information system, a method for early detection and monitoring, efficient communication and consciousness-raising, and an evaluation of already developed methods. ILVO will take the lead in the work package on risk assessment and will conduct a pilot study to develop an eDNA method for early detection of some "alarm" IAS in estuaries.

Title: Safeguarding the Environment From Invasive Non-Native Species (SE FINS)
Funding: INTERREG IVA 2Zeeën
Term: 2014-2015
Partners: Norfolk County Council (UK), Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit Divisie Landbouw en Natuur (NL), Eigen Vermogen van het Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek (NL), Centre Permanent d’Initiatives pour l’Environment (CPIE) Val d’Authie (FR), Eastern Inshore Fisheries Conservation Authority (UK), Stichting Het Zeeuwse Landschap (NL), Natuurmonumenten (NL), Vlaams Instituut voor de Zee (BE), Centre Permanent d'Initiative Evironnment(CPIE) Flandre Maritime (FR), Dedham Vale AONB & Stour Valley Project (UK), Animal and Plant Health Agency (UK)
Contact: Sabrine Derveaux
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