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January 7, 2013 / landscapeiskingston

EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy: Invasive species present threat to waterways biodiversity

Invasive species present one of the greatest threats to biodiversity including waterways both in the EU and globally, and is now the subject of  European Commission legislative proposals.  

The DAISIE project, supported under the EU’s Sixth Research Framework Programme,  identified 12,046 non-native species present in Europe, of which 10-15% are expected to be invasive, with negative economic, human health or ecological impacts. A 2009 assessment estimated the cost of invasive species damage and control measures at €12 billion per year in Europe; costs that are likely to increase as the number and impact of invasive species continue to grow.

Whilst EU instruments exist to deal with other pressures on biodiversity, until the 2012 resolution , there has been  no comprehensive instrument at this level to tackle invasive species. EU policies and legislation covering nature, plant and animal health, water and trade regulations provided part of the solution but gaps remained in terms of both the species covered and their potential harmful effects. At the end of 2008, the European Commission adopted a Communication (COM (2008) 789) presenting policy options for an EU Strategy on invasive species, which included the option of a dedicated legislative instrument. A more recent publication, ‘Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’ (COM(2011)244), supported this approach and set specific targets for addressing invasive species at EU level.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution on the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy, a follow-up to ‘Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020’ as tabled by the European Commission in May 2011.  The full text can be seen below by clicking on the link:

The main objective of this new legislative instrument will be to minimise the negative impact of the worst invasive species on EU biodiversity, through a combination of measures designed to prevent invasive species entering and spreading within EU territory; for early detection and eradication of new species; and for the control, containment or management of established species in order to minimise negative impacts.


Waterways Forward partner, Waterways Ireland has acknowledged that one of its main issues is the protection of its canals and river waters and is required to achieve Good Ecological Potential (GEP) by 2015 under the requirements of  the EU Water Framework Directive.  The good practice Implementation of  Water Framework Directive for Canals , prepared by Landscape Interface Studio, Kingston University on behalf of the Waterways Forward project, sets out how WI have implemented a monitoring system on their waterways network.


Paula Treacy, Senior Environment Officer at Waterways Ireland describes the value of this process,

Our main challenge has been about the ecology of canals: (1) what is good (2) how do we balance and (3) how can we protect. Our business is to provide navigation infrastructure but we have also acknowledged the overall ecological value of the canal systems in their own right. It is not an easy process because establishing an ecological rating system on man-made infrastructure is new to us, and probably throughout Europe. Additionally we are working on a  project with other European countries to establish a combined partnership tool for rating the ecology of canals in different countries. There has been tremendous learning in this process because we are dealing with unlimited variables.”



Leave a Comment
  1. waterways forward / Jan 7 2013 2:48 pm

    Following comment received from Giulio Volpi…..”I would like to point out a recently funded Life+ project called: RARITY ( ). It faces the problem of invasion of Procambarus clarkii in freshwater within a North-East Italian region (Friuli Venezia-Giulia). I hope that the strategy adopted by this project could be useful for support European public authorities in solving problems caused by this particular crayfish.”


  1. Invasive Species – The Cost to the Green Economy « Waterways Forward blog

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