Strasbourg, 7 January 2008 T-PVS/Inf (2008) 3
CONVENTION ON THE CONSERVATION OF EUROPEAN WILDLIFE
AND NATURAL HABITATS
Contribution to the 13th Meeting of the
Subsidiary Body on Scientific,
Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 13)
of the Convention on Biological Diversity
(Rome, 18-22 February 2008)
Bern Convention action
invasive alien species in Europe
the Directorate of Culture and Cultural and Natural Heritage
What is the Bern Convention
The Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats was adopted in Bern on 19 September 1979. It has at present 45 Contracting Parties, including 40 Council of Europe member states, Burkina Faso, Monaco, Senegal, Tunisia and the European Community*. The Convention has a three-fold objective:
▪ to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats;
▪ to promote co-operation between states;
▪ to give particular emphasis to endangered and vulnerable species and endangered natural habitats.
The Convention is managed by a Conference of the Parties called “Standing Committee” which has met 20 times since the entry into force of the Convention in 1982. It has a small Secretariat depending on the Council of Europe, based in Strasbourg (France).
Since 1983 the Convention has established a system for monitoring of implementation by Parties based on the work of specialised groups of experts and the examination of presumed violations (case files). It has implemented a network of reserves (Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest) and has produced extensive information on the status of European threatened species and other subjects of interest for the preservation of wildlife and natural habitats. The work developed under the Convention has led to the establishment of a fully-fledged conservation programme for Europe’s wild flora and fauna. Its Standing Committee has set as one of its priorities to play a more active role in the implementation, at the regional level, of the Convention on Biological Diversity and adapt accordingly its tasks and responsibilities for that purpose.
Provisions for alien species
Article 11, paragraph 2.b, of the Convention requires Contracting Parties “to strictly control the introduction of non native species”.
In order to help interpret these obligations, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted in 1984 a specific recommendation:
▪ Recommendation No. R(84)14 of the Committee of Ministers concerning the introduction of non-native species
in which it recommended governments of member states to:
1. prohibit the introduction of non-native species into the natural environment;
2. authorise certain exceptions to the prohibition (on the condition of risk-evaluation studies;
3. take steps to prevent accidental introductions;
4. inform other governments on introduction schemes or accidental introductions (full text of Recommendation in Appendix 1 to this document).
These four subjects (prohibition, authorisation pending on risk assessment, prevention of accidental introductions and international co-operation) were to mark future action of the Bern Convention on this issue. European co-operation was also enhanced by the insistence, in Standing Committee meetings, of the need to implement those recommendations and to adapt legislation accordingly.
Implementation of legal provision of the Convention on alien species
A first report by the Secretariat (Isabelle Trinquelle: Legal aspects of the introduction and re-introduction of wildlife species Europe, document TPVS (92) 7) showed that there were important gaps and differences in which the different European states parties to the Convention were implementing, at the national level, Article 11, paragraph 2. Some states had little or no legislation on the topic and none considered the possible consequences of introductions in other states. Control of unauthorised introductions was poor and prevention measures often inexistent. The report recommended the taking of more sound legal and administrative measures and even proposed a “model article” (for a conservation law) on introductions (see appendix 2).
Specialised group of experts
Alarmed by the lack of implementation of provision on introduction of alien species (and also on some misguided re-introductions), the Standing Committee to the Convention decided in 1992 to create a specialised group of experts originally called “Group of Experts on the legal aspects on introduction and re-introduction of wildlife species”, which met for the first time in March 1993. The group collected and analysed different national laws dealing with invasive species and proposed work aimed at the harmonisation of national regulations on introduced species, particularly on the fields of definitions, territorial scope of regulation, listing of species whose introduction is undesirable, identification of authorities responsible for permits, conditions for issuing such permits and control involved. The rules applicable to trade in species was identified as a matter of concern (see for detail document T PVS (93) 14).
The group of experts met again in May 1995 (document T PVS (95) 30) and in June 1997 (document T PVS (97) 16) and it enlarged its scope. It decided to act on the following topics:
centralisation of existing information on introduced species (European Clearing House Mechanism on Introductions);
analysis of legal and administrative measures taken by states (follow-up of compliance with obligations);
design of an overall risk management policy on Europe-wide introduction;
elaboration of guidelines and codes of conduct on alien species;
identification of species and control mechanism requiring priority attention;
identification of sensitive areas, particularly selected islands, where especially strict measures are needed to prevent and control introductions;
identification of emergency situations;
elaboration of public awareness mechanism on alien species;
elaboration of guidelines on eradication and control measures;
problem of civil liability for damage to the environment by alien species;
problems of international co-operation and state liability;
legal status of the introduced species listed in the Appendices of the Convention.
The main policy paper produced by the group during the 90’s was a document that was to be adopted by the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention:
Recommendation No. 57 (1997) of the Standing Committee of the Convention on the introduction of organisms belonging to non-native species into the environment (appendix 3 to this document).
The main four points of this recommendation are, not surprisingly, coincident with those of Recommendation No. 84 (14) of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, but the 1997 recommendation adds guidelines listing “measures that may be considered as appropriate for controlling introductions of non-native species” which are listed for consideration by Parties. Those guidelines form a comprehensive policy document.
Although that recommendation is a collective work to which many different experts had valuable contributions, the Secretariat of the Convention should like to pay tribute to the author of the first draft, the eminent environmental lawyer Mr Cyrille de Klemm, sadly disappeared in 1999. It will not be surprising for some to learn that he also participated in the drafting, by the team of the Environmental Law Centre of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), of the first draft of a legal text that was to become after long negotiations, the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Two of the publications prepared to guide the work of the group of experts were:
Introduction of non-native organisms into the natural environment (1996), by Cyrille de Klemm, Nature and Environment Series No. 73, Council of Europe Publishing;
Introduction of non-native plant species into the natural environment (1997), by Jacques Lambinon, Nature and Environment Series No. 87, Council of Europe Publishing.
During the early 2000’s the energy of the Group of Experts was largely devoted to the preparation and negotiation of a fundamental text to promote and guide European activities on Invasive Alien Species: the European Strategy on Invasive Alien Species. This strategy, which was prepared by Mr Piero Genovesi and Ms Clare Shine, was discussed at the 11th meeting of the Group, held in Horta (Azores, Portugal) in 2002 and was negotiated soon after the adoption, by the 6th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (decision V1/23 of April 2002) of “Guiding Principles for the prevention, introduction and mitigation of impacts of alien species that threaten ecosystems, habitats or species”. The Strategy follows these “guiding principles” but goes further into the action recommended. It promotes the development and implementation of co-ordinated measures and co-operative efforts throughout Europe to prevent minimise adverse impacts of invasive alien species on Europe’s biodiversity, as well as their consequences for the economy and human health and well-being.
The Strategy provides also guidance to Bern Convention parties on:
awareness and information on IAS issues;
strengthening national and regional capacities to deal with IAS issues;
preventing introduction of new IAS and support rapid remedial responses;
reducing adverse impacts of IAS;
recovering species and natural habitats affected;
identifying priorities and key actions.
When the Strategy was adopted by the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention through recommendation 99 (see recommendation in Appendix 3 to this document), governments were asked to draw up and implement national strategies on IAS.
At the following meeting of the Group of experts in 2005 in Palma (Spain) [doc T-PVS (2005) 9] and Iceland [doc T-PVS (2007) 9.] special emphasis was placed on the follow-up by governments of the strategy. A report was commissioned (T-PVS/inf (2004) 4) – updated in 2005 (T-PVS/inf (2005) 25) which showed that many states were indeed busy drafting national strategies on IAS and carrying out interesting projects.
During 2006 two national workshops on IAS were held, in Croatia (May, doc T-PVS (2006) p) and Ukraine (October, doc T-PVS (2006) 18) with the help of the Secretariat of the Convention, some experts and EPPO. The aim of the workshops is to support national efforts to draft and implement national IAS strategies. A further workshop is planned for Bulgaria, to be held in 2007.
The Bern Convention group of experts, meeting every two years, has become the main governmental European forum for discussing problems related to IAS, for proposing new approaches and precise action and assessing the progress of government in implementing appropriate policies.
Identification and eradication of problem species
An important problem to deal with in the framework of the control of invasive alien species is the identification of species that have already become a problem or which are likely to have a negative effect on native species. Different Bern Convention groups of experts (on amphibians and reptiles, and on plant conservation) have identified, in the field of their competence, introduced species which may present risks. This work is being completed by a systematic study of groups. Freshwater ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to introduced species. A report has been drafted in this context:
Identification on non-native freshwater fish established in Europe, assessing their potential threat to native biological diversity, by Benigno Elvira (document T PVS (2001) 6).
Future Bern Convention work will continue on other groups, as well as on the control of particularly harmful alien species. The Bern Convention has monitoring mechanism called the “case-file system” which permits the verification of implementation by states. As it is non-governmental organisations which usually start the complaint procedure, the Standing Committee has discussed several cases concerning invasive alien species, adopting recommendations on exotic crayfish, the alga Caulerpa taxifolia, the grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis in Italy and the control of the Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis:
▪ Recommendation No. 18 (1989) on the protection of indigenous crayfish in Europe;
▪ Recommendation No. 45 (1995) on controlling proliferation of Caulerpa taxifolia in the Mediterranean;
▪ Recommendation No. 61 (1997) on the conservation of the White-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala);
▪ Recommendation No. 78 (1999) on conservation of the red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) in Italy (see appendices 4 to 7 to this document);
▪ Recommendation No. 114 (2005) on the control of the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) and other alien squirrels in Europe (see appendix 11 to this document);
▪ Draft Recommendation No. 123 (2007) on limiting the dispersal of the Grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) in Italy (see appendix 14 to this document).
▪ Recommendation No. 124 (2007) on progress in the eradication of the Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) (see appendix 15 to this document);
The Standing Committee followed the steps of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe which had issued in 1985 the following recommendation:
Recommendation No. R(85)14 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the introduction of the American cotton-rabbit (Sylvilagus sp) into Europe.
The Standing Committee has also dealt with other cases which did not give rise to recommendations: on the introduction of exotic bees in Portugal (documents T-PVS (96) 37, T PVS (96) 100) and on the introduction of Japanese scallop in Ireland.
It is important to note that early warning by NGOs on plans to introduce potentially invasive alien species, and early warning by the Standing Committee, the Bureau or its Secretariat that the planned introduction may be a violation of the Convention, has resulted in avoiding some unwanted introductions.
Eradication of problem species has been subject to particular attention by the Convention. Recommendation No. 61 above was the start of an eradication campaign of ruddy ducks (Oxyura jamaicensis). The Standing Committee adopted an Action Plan on the European-native white-headed duck (drafted by BirdLife International and Wetlands International) and commissioned an eradication plan for the alien ruddy duck: “The status of the Ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis) in the western Palearctic and an action plan for eradication (1999-2002), by Baz Hughes, document T-PVS/Birds (99) 9.
At the 20th meeting of the Standing Committee, in November 2000, the United Kingdom organised a workshop to follow-up the implementation of the plan (communiqué in appendix 9). A £3.34 million LIFE project for the eradication of the species was launched in 2002 (see T-PVS/inf (2005) 19).
The problems linked to eradication have also been studied in a broader scope. A report was prepared on “Methods to control and eradicate non-native terrestrial vertebrates” (1998), by Jorge Fernández-Orueta (document T-PVS (98)67) and a seminar on eradication was held on Malta, entitled “Workshop on the control and eradication of non-native terrestrial vertebrates” in June 1999 (Environmental Encounters Series, No. 41, 1999, Council of Europe Publishing). As a result of the workshop the Standing Committee adopted:
“Recommendation No. 77 (1999) on the eradication of non-native terrestrial vertebrates” (see appendix 10 to this document),
and guidelines were prepared for such eradication:
“Guidelines for eradication of terrestrial vertebrates: a European contribution to the invasive alien species issue”, by Piero Genovesi (document T-PVS (2000) 65 revised).
Following the adoption of the European Strategy on Invasive Alien Species, which recommended the development of inventories of alien species and, conscious that many European and national initiatives existed, the Standing Committee commissioned a report on a synthesis of the different lists used (see report by Mr Piero Genovesi, T-PVS/inf (2007)1). A special focus of that report was the risk of alien species entering Europe through trade and a recommendation was prepared that contained a “metalist” of species to be avoided in trade (see appendix 16 to this document).
Trade and Invasive Alien Species
Globalisation, new world arrangements for free trade and the disappearance of internal trade barriers in Europe parallel to the expansion of the European Union are providing more opportunities than ever before for species to be transported to new locations. To see the impact of trade on the expansion of alien species and propose precautionary action, the Convention commissioned the following report:
“Overview of existing international/regional mechanisms to ban or restrict trade in potentially invasive alien species” by Ms Clare Shine (T-PVS/inf (2006) 8).
The report was the base for a recommendation on the topic:
“Recommendation No. 125 (2007) of the Standing Committee, on trade in invasive and potentially invasive alien species in Europe” (see appendix 16)
aimed at improving information systems on IAS to avoid both intentional and unintentional introductions, enhance early warning systems and encourage remedial action.
The Convention has been looking, in the past, for a greater synergy with other European and world institutions, in particular the European Commission, the European Environment Agency (EEA), the European Plant Protection Organisation (EPPO), the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Global Invasive Species Programme (GISP) – to harmonise legislation and programmes on invasive alien species. The European Strategy on Invasive Alien Species provides an appropriate instrument for joint implementation as it recognises the importance of the role of other international bodies and institutions, NGOs and the private sector.
The Bern Convention has been recognised as the European forum for invasive alien species by the Sixth Ministerial Conference “Environment for Europe” (Belgrade, October 2007) and reports periodically on its work both to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Council for the Pan-European Biological and Landscape diversity Strategy (PEBLDS), a European initiative on biodiversity endorsed in 1995 at the Third Ministerial Conference, “Environment for Europe” (Sofia, Bulgaria).
Of special significance in the context of collaboration with other international organisations has been the work dedicated to invasive alien plants. The Bern Convention is involved in the preparation and implementation of the Planta Europa / Council of Europe “European Plant Conservation Strategy” adopted in 2001, which addresses the need to combat the ecological threat posed by non-native species. The Strategy is currently under revision, a project in which is involved another major player and partner in this field, EPPO. This organisation has a Panel on Invasive Alien Species and is willing to launch a number of interesting projects in collaboration with the Bern Convention, including the identification of priority species for eradication, the elaboration of technical guidelines for eradication of invasive plants and the elaboration of codes of conduct (e.g. for horticulture). In that context governments were invited to carry out eradication or containment programmes of a few selected species:
“Recommendation No. 126 (2007, on the eradication of some invasive alien plant species” (see appendix 17 to this document)
As far as Mediterranean plants are concerned, the Convention supported a workshop on “Invasive plants in Mediterranean type regions of the World” (Mèze, France 2005) that established a number of recommendations for Government and experts (Mèze Declaration) (see proceedings of workshop in “Environmental Encounters No. 59, Council of Europe Publications).
Invasive alien species on islands
The effects of IAS on biological diversity is more intense on islands and other evolutionary isolated ecosystems, as they are rich in endemic species, which are vulnerable to the introduction of non-indigenous predators or competitors. The Bern Convention Group of experts has met often on islands (Malta, Azores, Mallorca, Iceland) gathering expertise on local IAS problems. In 2002 a workshop on Invasive Alien Species on European Islands and Evolutionary Isolated Ecosystems was held in Horta (Azores) [report T-PVS/inf (2002) 33] preparing the base for a Bern Convention Recommendation 91 (2002) on Invasive species that threaten biological diversity on islands and evolutionary isolated ecosystems (see Appendix 12 to this document).
Much of the work ahead will be related to the monitoring of governments’ commitments under CBD and the Bern Convention and the technical support of governments to help in the fulfilment of obligations under these conventions. The Bern Convention is also promoting more dynamic approach to conservation to be able to adapt law and practice to the challenge of climate change, noting that in that context the threat of biological invasion will be notably increased. We are to expect in the next years more IAS threatening native species and ecosystems so precautionary measures and mitigation action will have to be more decisive.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
COMMITTEE OF MINISTERS
recommendation No. R (84) 14
of the committee of ministers to member states
concerning the introduction of non-native species
(Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 21 June 1984
at the 374th meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies)
The Committee of Ministers, under the terms of Article 15.b of the Statute of the Council of Europe,
Considering that the aim of the Council of Europe is to achieve a greater unity between its members;
Having regard to the resolutions of the European Ministerial Conferences on the Environment;
Having regard to the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats of 19 September 1979 and in particular to Article 11.2.b thereof which requires Parties to strictly control the introduction of non-native species;
Defining “introduction” as the release of a non-native species into the natural environment, from which it was hitherto absent;
Considering that non-native species are introduced into the natural environment inter alia for economic reasons, for hunting and fishing, ornament and attractiveness, biological pest control or accidentally;
Noting that a diversity of indigenous wildlife is essential to the maintenance of the biological balance of ecosystems;
Believing that many introductions have aggravated natural imbalances, especially in island systems, and that non-native species may sooner or later cause the destruction of natural ecosystems, indigenous animal and plant species and even the economy;
Considering that the risks and consequences of introducing a non-native species are frequently incalculable and unforeseeable, even if meticulous research has been carried out, since the species introduced:
displays in many instances great environmental adaptability and may therefore spread from the biotope to which it was hoped to confine it;
may spread rapidly because limiting factors (predators, competition, etc.) are often absent or very few in number; it may thus become an ecological and economic pest capable of causing the disappearance of one or more local species or of an entire ecosystem, including all the intermediate levels;
may transmit diseases to indigenous populations;
may alter the genetic make-up of populations of a species and give rise to hybridisation;
Convinced therefore of the need to control and regulate the introduction of non-native species in Europe,
Recommends that the governments of the member states:
1. prohibit the introduction of non-native species into the natural environment;
2. authorise certain exceptions to the prohibition on condition that they:
have a study carried out – preferably by a research establishment responsible for nature conservation – to evaluate the probable consequences of such introduction for wildlife and ecosystems;
submit such studies for an opinion to the European Committee for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, the final decision resting with the governments concerned;
3. take the necessary steps to prevent as far as possible the accidental introduction of non-native species;
4. inform governments of neighbouring countries concerned of introduction schemes or accidental introductions.
A “model article” (for a conservation law)
The release into a natural environment, without prior authorisation from the competent national authority, of an animal belonging to a species or sub-species which is not native to the area concerned is prohibited.
Exemptions from this ban may be obtained upon presentation of:
reasons in the public interest that might justify the introduction of a species, and proof of the lack of satisfactory alternatives;
a taxonomical, ecological and ethological analysis of the species concerned and an ecological analysis of the proposed host habitat;
an ecological impact study, with particular attention to the risks of hybridisation, competition with indigenous species or sub-species, epidemics and alteration of the habitat;
a technical implementation and follow-up programme.
This application file shall be submitted to a competent scientific body for an opinion.
A list of indigenous species shall be drawn up at the national and regional level and made available to the public.
Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats
Recommendation No. 57 (adopted on 5 December 1997) on the introduction of organisms belonging to non-native species into the environment
The Standing Committee of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, in accordance with Article 14 of the Convention,
Having regard to the aim of the Convention which is notably to ensure the conservation of wild flora and fauna, by giving particular attention to species, including migratory species, which are threatened with extinction and vulnerable;
Recalling that under Article 11, paragraph 2.b of the Convention, each Contracting Party undertakes to strictly control the introduction of non-native species;
Considering that species native to a given territory means a species that has been observed in the form of a naturally occurring and self-sustaining population in historical times; "species" in the sense of this Recommendation refers both to species and to lower taxonomic categories, subspecies, varieties, etc. (thus, for instance, the release of a different non-native subspecies into a given territory should also be considered as an introduction);
Considering that "introduction" means deliberate or accidental release, into the environment of a given territory, of an organism belonging to a non-native taxa (species or lower taxa that has not been observed as a naturally occurring and self-sustaining population in this territory in historical times);
Considering that this Recommendation does not apply to:
genetically modified organisms,
the introduction of non-native plants cultivated in managed agricultural and forest areas or for the purpose of combating soil erosion,
the introduction of non-native organisms belonging to non-native species used for the purposes of biological control, if the introduction has been authorised on the basis of regulations for plant protection and pest control, which comprise an assessment of the impacts on flora and fauna,
the introduction of non-native species maintained into confined space (for example, botanic gardens, greenhouses, arboreta, zoos, aquaculture or animal-breeding establishments or circuses),
or the use of birds of prey in falconry;
Considering that the introduction of organisms belonging to non-native species may initiate a process (competition with native species, predation, transmission of pathogenic agents or parasites) which can cause serious harm to biological diversity, ecological processes or economic activities;
Being aware of the need to set up a system of risk management aimed at forestalling uncontrolled introductions and at reducing to a minimum the negative consequences of those it has been impossible to prevent;
Believing that the eradication of an established introduced species is very difficult and costly, and in many cases probably impossible;
Desirous of laying down a minimum number of rules, accepted and applied by everyone, aimed at anticipating and repairing the damage caused by inopportune introductions and which should be based essentially on principles of precaution and prevention, and referring to the "polluter-pays" principle;
Noting that there is a need to establish an international information and consultation mechanism to co-ordinate efforts directed at the prevention or eradication of harmful introductions;
Recognising that it is particularly difficult to mobilise the competent authorities and public, whenever an introduction does not endanger human health or major economic interests, and noting the consequent need for a vigorous policy of information and education concerning the problem and the ecological consequences thereof;
Bearing in mind Recommendation No. R (84) 14 of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to Member states on the introduction of non-native species, adopted on 21 June 1984;
Recalling that under Article 8.h of the Convention on Biological Diversity, each Party undertakes to prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species,
Recommends that Contracting Parties:
1. Prohibit the deliberate introduction within their frontiers or in a part of their territory of organisms belonging to non-native species for the purpose of establishing populations of these species in the wild, except in particular circumstances where they have been granted prior authorisation by a regulatory authority, and only after an impact assessment and consultation with appropriate experts has taken place;
2. Endeavour to prevent the accidental introduction of organisms belonging to non-native species into the environment with the potential to establish populations, where they use anthropogenic routes of dispersal;
3. Draw up a documented national list of non-native species established in the wild, which are known to be invasive and/or cause harm to other species, ecosystems, public health or damage to economic activities;
4. To consider, for the purposes of the application of the Convention, the suggested measures listed in the guidelines set out in the Appendix to the present Recommendation, as appropriate to the specific circumstances in their territory;
5. Communicate to the Secretariat, so that it may in turn inform the other Contracting Parties, any relevant measures adopted or envisaged as well as any information available on the outcome of the measures adopted.
Measures that may be considered as appropriate for controlling introductions of non-native species are listed for consideration by Contracting Parties. Where appropriate, Contracting Parties are invited to take into account the provisions of existing international agreements and recommendations where they already address issues which are listed in these guidelines.
1. Deliberate introductions into the environment
a. Establishing, in application of the principles of precaution and prevention, a system for prohibiting deliberate introductions of organisms belonging to non-native species, and not granting exemptions save in exceptional cases. Whatever the circumstances, the prohibition should apply to the deliberate introduction of any organisms belonging to non-native species into the environment. Take particularly into consideration the vulnerability of ecosystems of islands, lakes, enclosed and semi-enclosed seas, or centres of endemism.
b. Establishing a system of exemptions, or exceptional authorisations, based on the following provisions:
i. the introduction of an organism belonging to a non-native species should only be considered if it benefits man and/or ecosystems;
ii. the introduction of an organism belonging to a non-native species should only be considered if no native species is considered suitable for the purpose for which the introduction is being made;
iii. no organism belonging to non-native species should be introduced into the environment, except for exceptional reasons and only if the operation has been preceded by a comprehensive and carefully planned impact study, which has reached a favourable conclusion on the proposal.
c. Such an impact study should include:
i. a taxonomic, ecological and ethological analysis;
ii. an analysis of the reproduction, feeding habits, dispersal or migration (if relevant), pathology, predators and competitors of the species to which the organism concerned belongs and of the risks of hybridisation with organisms belonging to native species;
iii. an ecological analysis of the proposed host habitat (including, in particular, an assessment of the effects on the surrounding natural or semi-natural habitats of the introduction of any organisms belonging to species, sub-species or varieties of plant to artificial, arable, ley pasture, forest or other monoculture systems);
iv. an appropriate assessment of measures to reduce or minimise negative effects;
v. an analysis of the risks and dangers and of the means that could be used to eradicate or control the introduced population should unforeseen or harmful consequences of the introduction come to light.
d. Defining with precision the statutory quarantine procedures applicable to imported non-native species for each of the main taxonomic groups, and informing the Secretariat of these statutory procedures where they exist.
e. Once the introduction has been authorised but before the introduction takes place, carrying out trials in a controlled manner or, where possible, in a confined space.
f. Introduction operations should only be carried out by officially recognised establishments and be subject to very strict health and safety requirements.
2. Accidental introductions into the environment
a. Defining as "fugitives" organisms belonging to non-native species (or their descendants) that have been imported lawfully and set free, either accidentally or deliberately, but without the deliberate intention to populate.
b. Limiting escapes by a very strict application of rules:
i. preventing escape from establishments containing non-native wild plants (botanic gardens, greenhouses, arboreta and other types of plant culture), or where non-native wild animals are held in captivity (zoos, animal-breeding establishments, fish farms, etc.), by adopting measures to prevent such escape, which may include:
strict standards of security for boxes, cages, enclosures and for the transportation of species,
the strict control and containment in a confined space of species considered as a potential serious ecological danger in the event of their escape,
the requirement that all establishments keeping captive organisms belonging to non-native species should be licensed,
a register of and an appropriate system to mark animals so that their origin can be identified in the event of their escape,
strict rules in the event of the establishment closing down to prevent organisms from being deliberately or accidentally freed,
for the breeders of aquatic species, a location that rules out any communication with open water, bearing in mind the risk of flooding; ideally, such installations should never be located in an area liable to storm damage, even very exceptional climate events (in particular, floods every 100 or even 500 years);
ii. since special attention must be given to aquariums because of the risks involved when they are emptied, imposing standards and procedures on public aquariums and on dealers in species used in aquariums;
iii. since animals, plants or micro-organisms accompanying lawfully introduced organisms constitute another aspect of accidental introductions of organisms, in particular marine organisms, applying strictly the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) Code of Practice on the Introductions and Transfers of Marine Organisms 1994, which requires that only species of the first generation be set free, after a period of quarantine, and never species belonging to the stock initially imported; issuing a permit for the transport of captive-bred organisms which should be authorised only if the conditions in question are fulfilled;
iv. as the use of live bait for fishing is another source of unintentional introductions, ensuring, by means of appropriate regulations covering the trade in and use of such live bait, that only organisms belonging to species present in the waters concerned are in fact used. It is important to safeguard the faunal and floral integrity of each drainage basin and thus not to introduce organisms belonging to species that are naturally absent from it, even if they come from neighbouring drainage basins in the same State;
v. drawing up special rules to safeguard certain sensitive areas (protected areas, islands, areas recognised as having great biological diversity or containing endemic species) from escaped species, such as prohibiting establishments from keeping captive species in these areas or in their neighbourhood or subjecting such establishments to even stricter security conditions than elsewhere;
vi. as the setting free of pets belonging to non-native wild species is a development of increasing concern, limiting as appropriate the species that may be offered for sale to ones that could not survive in the environment in the country concerned or, in so far as people travel with their animals, that could not survive anywhere in Europe. Failing or in addition to this, taking as appropriate the following measures: a general prohibition on setting these pets free; an obligation for pet merchants to inform their customers of this prohibition and of the penalties for violation; a recovery system for animals their owners wish to get rid of, which could be financed by a tax on sales; providing an incentive to use this system in the form of a refundable deposit; subjecting as appropriate animal dealers to the same rules as other enterprises keeping captive animals;
vii. taking precautions that organisms belonging to non-native species intended for human consumption do not escape, alive, into the environment;
viii. taking precautions that non-native cultivated forestry species or ornamental plants do not become propagated into the environment;
ix. controlling the possession and transport of organisms belonging to non-native species and, provided that reliable criteria are available, prohibiting the possession of organisms belonging to non-native species liable to reproduce in the environment.
a. Defining as "stowaways", organisms belonging to non-native species transported inadvertently from one country to another.
b. Identifying all vectors of introductions and adopting effective preventive measures:
i. increased inspections and the application of veterinary and plant health measures in regard to consignments of animals and plants and products thereof and the packaging used;
ii. taking, as appropriate, preventive measures in respect of aircraft and ships arriving from exotic countries, in view of the fact that they represent another pathway for introductions, paying particular attention to water used as ballast.
3. The control of introduced species
a. Abolishing the legal protection enjoyed by certain species introduced without authorisation and giving them a special legal status so that the necessary control and eradication measures can be taken. In particular, steps should be taken to ensure that introduced species are not automatically protected by law when the latter applies to all the species belonging to a particular taxonomic group, in order to make it legally possible to control them (express reference should be made to "indigenous" species in lists of protected species).
b. Preventing any consolidation of the genetic base and populations of such species into the environment and, if appropriate, facilitating the taking of any active measures of control or eradication required:
i. prohibiting all further releases by publishing a list of animal and plant species already introduced without authorisation which it is forbidden to set free into the environment, and by regulating the possession and transport of such species in order to keep them in a confined area, thus minimising the risk of escape;
ii. classifying species introduced without authorisation among those for which hunting or destruction is permitted at all times;
iii. introducing an obligation to notify the authorities of the presence in the environment of unauthorised non-native species and attempting to eliminate them;
iv. granting the authorities the power to declare an ecosafety emergency in order to attempt to eradicate species introduced without authorisation;
v. empowering the administrative authorities to take eradication measures in the event of unlawful introduction;
vi. adopting plans to control species introduced without authorisation by requiring landowners, local authorities and the central administration to introduce measures laid down in regulations to eradicate or limit the numbers of certain species or to safeguard natural areas, especially protected areas and their surroundings, from the intrusion of unauthorised non-native species.
c. Preventing a species introduced without authorisation from spreading through the introduction of binding preventive measures: inspections, disinfection, the closing of certain areas to traffic, etc.
4. Offences, penalties and civil liability
a. Punishing illegal introductions, including those resulting from negligence.
b. With a view to making illegal introductions easier to prove: making it compulsory to register and mark large captive animals so that their owner can be easily identified; and, for other species establishing a presumption;
c. With regard to penalties:
i. establishing criminal penalties for unlawful introductions of organisms belonging to non-native species and, where appropriate, making the authors of these introductions civilly liable (the penalties for unlawful introductions should be as severe as for the most serious offences against legislation on protection of the environment, such as certain types of pollution);
ii. applying administrative sanctions against establishments that keep or breed organisms belonging to non-native species but do not take the necessary precautions to prevent their escape. These could involve the withdrawal of permits and the temporary or even permanent closing of the enterprise, and the confiscation of the organisms.
d. With regard to reparation, and with reference to the polluter-pays principle:
i. making the person responsible for the offence bear the cost of eradicating the species introduced without authorisation;
ii. in the event of an escape, making the person responsible liable for the cost of the preparation and execution of a plan for recapture, control or eradication;
iii. instituting a system of reimbursement of the expenses incurred for reparations, as well as the payment of compensation in respect of the damage caused to the environment;
iv. setting up guarantee systems and insurance arrangements or compensation funds financed by professional species breeders or traders.
5. National policies and institutions
a. Framing a national public policy on the introduction of non-native species.
b. Designating a specialised department within each competent authority with appropriate resources to prepare measures indicated in the present appendix and supervise their implementation.
c. Consulting clearly identified scientific and other clearly identified competent authorities before decisions are taken on the introduction of organisms belonging to non-native species, reintroductions of organisms belonging to wild species, restocking and reinforcement of populations of organisms belonging to wild species in the environment, and possibly eradication.
d. Constituting interministerial machinery to co-ordinate the action taken by the various authorities concerned and drawing up a national programme to reduce the risk of accidental introductions, rapidly identify newly introduced organisms belonging to non-native species and control ones that have become established in the wild without damaging the environment.
With regard to aquatic species, for example, a commission composed of the various authorities concerned with continental waters and the oceans could be responsible for preparing a report identifying and assessing methods of reducing the risks associated with the introduction of organisms belonging to non-native species, which would also cover:
the identification, description and management of the risks entailed by the various possible types of introduction,
a decision making process for approving programmes to control introduced species,
research, in particular on past introductions, education and technical assistance.
6. Information and co-operation
a. Informing the general public of the ecological, economic and health hazards associated with introductions of organisms belonging to non-native species, and of the criminal and/or civil liability incurred by infringing the statutory provisions in force.
b. Co-operating with neighbouring states or ones sharing a common coastline, whether or not they are parties to the Bern Convention, directly or through the intermediary of the Secretariat; consulting them on the measures that might be adopted, notifying them of deliberate introductions and informing them of accidental ones.
c. Submitting an annual report to the Standing Committee on the application of this recommendation and in particular on introductions creating or liable to create a risk.
CONVENTION ON THE CONSERVATION
OF EUROPEAN WILDLIFE