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FAQs on how the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation interacts with the EU Nature Directives

AUTHORS: Evelyn Underwood – Riccardo Scalera – Wolfgang Rabitsch

IEEP has led the production of a new guidance document to support better implementation of the EU nature directives and Natura 2000. The document aims to answer frequently asked questions on how the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation can support the implementation of the EU Habitats and Birds Directives (the Nature Directives) and vice versa.

Invasive alien species (IAS) are already present in most Natura 2000 sites and are a growing threat to many protected species and habitats in the EU.

European freshwater crayfish, one of the species mentioned in the new guidance

For example, native freshwater crayfish (pictured left) are at high risk of dying out in most of Europe’s rivers because of the presence of invasive alien crayfish and the diseases they carry.

The EU IAS Regulation, which came into force in 2014, offers a dedicated legal tool aimed at preventing the introduction and spread of invasive alien species, and at mitigating their impacts.

Invasive alien species are pressures and threats to many Natura 2000 sites, and therefore Member States should address them in compliance with the requirements of the Nature Directives, but the IAS Regulation provides additional legal force and policy tools to prevent new invasions and deal with those that are already present. The legal requirements focus on the invasive species on the List of Union Concern, but also give scope for legal action against invasive alien species more broadly.

The guidance introduces both of the EU legislative frameworks and answers the most frequently asked questions about:

  • the objectives and scope of both regulation and directives,
  • how key areas of action under the IAS regulation link to EU nature directives implementation: prevention of introduction and entry, surveillance and early detection, rapid eradication, and management of IAS including habitat restoration.
  • integrating IAS surveillance, rapid eradication, management, and restoration measures into Natura 2000 site management plans and PAFs, and sources of funding.

The document is aimed at the competent authorities responsible for implementing the IAS Regulation, and the competent authorities for the Nature Directives (including Natura 2000 site managers). It will also help land managers and landowners in Natura 2000 sites to understand what consequences the IAS Regulation might have for their land management practices, whether they are farmers, foresters, or protected area managers.

The FAQ provides many examples and links to further information. An annex summarises the evidence of impacts of invasive alien species (IAS) on Natura 2000 and the species and habitats listed in the annexes of the Nature Directives, with tables featuring all the 66 IAS of Union Concern, their presence, and the current evidence of impacts (with reference lists).

The FAQ guidance was a key commitment under the EU Action Plan for People, Nature and the Economy, published after the fitness check of the EU Nature Directives showed that more action is needed to speed up implementation of the nature directives.

IEEP produced the guidance under a support contract funded by the European Commission.

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