With increased movement of people and goods around the world, there is an increased introduction of alien (non-native) species to new areas where they can become invasive.  Therefore actions to help reduce the risk of further introductions is required. Key to this, is knowing how the invasive species are likely to be introduced and acting to prevent further introductions through those pathways.

Pathways are the routes and mechanisms of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (IAS). The purpose Pathway Action Plans is to raise public awareness as well as to prevent unintentional introductions by minimizing the contamination of goods, commodities, vehicles and equipment by IAS, and ensuring appropriate checks at EU Union borders.

Three pathway action plans are currently under development in Ireland for the following pathways:

  • Angling
  • Recreational boating and watercraft
  • Movement of soil and spoil

Notice will be issued on this webpage, through social media and other public platforms when the draft plans are available for public consultation.

These Pathway Action Plans (PAPs) are three in a series of plans that will be developed  to reduce the risk of introduction and spread of invasive alien species in Ireland.

Background information

With increased globalization there is an increase in the movement of non-native species around the world (Hulme, 2009). Numerous non-native species, many introduced only in the last 200 years, have become successfully established over large areas of Europe (Hulme et al, 2009). Furthermore, biological invasions are widely expected to become a greater problem in the future (Lodge et al, 2006; Sutherland, 2008). Research by the European Commission funded DAISIE project, showed that non-native species are invading Europe at an unprecedented rate. 10,822 non-native species are listed for Europe of which 10-15% are expected to have a negative economic or ecological impact (European Commission, 2008). This is mirrored by recent trend analysis of non-native species introductions for Ireland where 13% of the species recorded and assessed in Ireland are high impact invasive species (O’Flynn et al, 2014). The trend analyses also showed that 4 times as many species were recorded in the 20th Century as in the previous one with the trend of introductions increasing dramatically from 2001 to 2010 for high impact invasive species. Actions to help prevent further introductions is required.

As there are likely to be a multitude of introduction pathways for very many non-native species, prioritizing those pathways that are likely to introduce most invasive species with potential to have the highest impact, is the most effective way to target limited resources to have the greatest preventative effect.

EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species and pathway action plans

The EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species [1] entered into force on 1st January 2015. This Regulation is based on the Convention of Biological Diversity’s Guiding Principles of prevention, prioritization and coordination and seeks to address the problem of Invasive alien species in a comprehensive manner. The objective is to protect native biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as to minimize and mitigate the human health or economic impacts that these species can have.

Core to the Regulation is a list of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern for which a general ban from the European Union including restrictions on introduction, transport, trade, keeping, breeding and release into the environment, is established. Other obligations also apply including notification of new occurrences, rapid eradication or management of species, establishment of surveillance systems and, adoption of action plans on the priority unintentional pathways for the IAS of Union concern.  For a species to be listed it must satisfy certain criteria of the Regulation and be based on risk assessment which includes a description of the potential pathways of introduction and spread, both intentional and unintentional.  Once a species is listed as an Invasive Alien Species of Union concern, various articles of the Regulation are implemented in a phased manner within given timeframes. Currently, there are 66 listed Invasive Alien Species of Union concern.

Under Article 13(1) of the EU Regulation on IAS, Member States are required to carry out comprehensive analysis of the pathways of unintentional introduction and spread of invasive alien species and ‘identify the pathways which require priority action because of the volume of species or of the potential damage caused by the species entering the Union through those pathways’. By analysing the risk of each of the IAS of Union concern being introduced and spread in Ireland with the potential impact they may have, the associated pathways are ranked and prioritized. For the priority pathways, Pathway Action Plans are developed

The Article 13 requirement pathway action plans is also in line with the international Convention on Biological Diversity Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2010 Aichi Target 9 (CBD, 2010) and the similar European Commission’s Target 5 of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 which states ‘By 2020, Invasive Alien Species and their pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and pathways are managed to prevent the introduction and establishment of new IAS’.

References and additional information

European Commission. 2008. Commission presents policy options for EU strategy on invasive species. Press release: European Commission – IP/08/1890 05/12/2008. Available online: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-08-1890_en.htm [Accessed: 12/01/2018]

Hulme, P.E., Roy, D.B., Cunha, T. & Larsson, T. B. 2009. A pan-European inventory of alien species: rationale, implementation and implications for managing biological invasions. Handbook of alien species in Europe (ed DAISIE), pp. 1-14. Springer, Dordrecht.

Lodge, D.M., Williams, S., MacIsaac, H.J., Hayes, K.R., Leung, B., Reichard, S., Mack, R.N., Moyle, P.B., Smith, M., Andow, D.A., Carlton, J.T. & McMichael, A. 2006. Biological invasions: Recommendations for US policy and management. Ecological Applications, 16, 2035–2054.

NOBANIS. 2015. Invasive Alien Species Pathway Analysis and Horizon Scanning for Countries in Northern Europe. © Nordic Council of Ministers 2015.

O’Flynn, C., Kelly, J. and Lysaght, L. 2014. Ireland’s invasive and non-native species – trends in introductions. National Biodiversity Data Centre Series No. 2. Ireland.

Sutherland, W.J. et al. 2008. Future novel threats and opportunities facing UK biodiversity identified by horizon scanning. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45, 821–833.

WGIAS. 2017. Prioritising Pathways of Introduction and Pathway Action Plans. Prepared by Working Group 1 of the Working Group on Invasive Alien Species (WGIAS) at the 2nd meeting of the Working Group Invasive Alien Species. Brussels, 2016-09-06. Available online:  https://circabc.europa.eu/faces/jsp/extension/wai/navigation/container.jsp [Accessed: 26/01/2017]

View the Northern Ireland and Great Britain draft pathway action plans: www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?sectionid=135

[1] The official title of the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation is: Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species.