Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Five plants and animals we don't want any more of

By Helen BriggsBBC News

3 October 2017 

From the American mink to the lionfish and the Argentine ant.

They may not be household names but, according to experts, they're top priority for attention over their potential risks to the environment.

Already found in parts of Europe, they can invade ecosystems and squeeze out other wildlife.

Yet, there are currently no restrictions on their release, trade, breeding and transport within the EU.

Species that are already on the EU's list of invasive species have to be monitored and tackled.

But there's a big backlog and more species need to be considered urgently, say scientists.

"Since 2014 only 49 species have made it to the list," explained Dr Carles Carboneras of Birdlife Europe and Central Asia. "That is clearly not enough - it does not match the magnitude of the problem that we have."

Danny Heptinstall, also of Birdlife Europe and Central Asia, added: "The public don't recognise the scale of the problem and governments aren't responding well."
Alien invaders

Invasive alien species are plants and animals that have spread outside their natural range because of human actions. They are one of the biggest causes of biodiversity loss and species extinctions.

EU Member States must take measures to detect, remove or manage species on the official list. However, this currently covers less than 5% of more than 1,000 established species with known ecological or economic impacts in Europe.

The new study, published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, developed a new approach to prioritising species for risk assessment. Researchers say more than 200 species need to be assessed by 2020 for their potential to permanently damage native species or ecosystems.

"The problem is that developing critical risk assessments takes considerable time and effort, and the number of introduced species already in the EU or that might be introduced in the future is very large," Dr Carboneras added.

"Our study plays a key role in policy implementation by proposing species in a ranked order."

Here are some of the animals and plants that are of high priority, according to the study. Scientists say they need to be assessed by 2018.

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