GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS RELATED TO SCIENCE-POLICY WORK ON IAS:
In 2006, the Belgian Biodiversity Platform organised the conference entitled 'SOS invasions!' in Brussels. During this conference, the members of the Belgian Forum on Invasive Species recommended to build up a national strategy on invasive species in order to limit the ecological and economic impact of invasive non-native species in Belgium; it should be based on the following key recommendations:
- Responsibility for non-native species issues – The Belgian Federal Government should designate or create a single lead structure to undertake the role of co-ordinating and ensuring consistency of application of non-native species policies. This structure has to strengthen and link existing policies and expertise in relevant fields as phytosanitary controls, animal health and welfare, trade in nonnative species, biosecurity initiatives, etc.
- Prevention measures – Any intentional introduction of non-native species in the wild should be subject to comprehensive and widely accepted risk assessment procedures in order to identify potential problem species for biodiversity, economy and human health.
- Action plans and codes of conducts – Action plans should be developed to help prevent intentional and unintentional introductions for all relevant sectors in a participative fashion involving the main stakeholders; they should be developed to address the main introduction pathways (e.g. ballast water, fisheries, food products, packing material, biological control, horticulture and pets).
- Legislation – The existing legislation has to be revised, enlarged and updated to improve handling of invasive non-native species issues. It has to develop a statutory basis for the actions plans set out in previous recommendation and to take in consideration trade, introduction and eradication of nonnative species, especially those that have the greatest potential impact on biodiversity, economy and public health ('black list').
- Detection and capacity for mitigation action – Policies should be established with respect to early detection and control of detrimental non-native species in the wild. Adequate monitoring for nonnative species at points of entry and in the wild has to be developed on the basis of the existing schemes under the responsibility of the regions (e.g. Habitat and Water Framework Directives). Moreover, policies, operational capacity and best practices should be developed with respect to control or eradication of black-listed species.
- Scientific capacity – Although invasion biology is an expanding field in ecology worldwide, it has only recently begun to gain momentum in Belgium. Building up and maintaining scientific capacity is a prerequisite to success in the aforementioned fields, and scientists should be involved in the development of a national strategy.
- Raising awareness – A targeted awareness strategy involving all relevant sectors has to be developed to ensure a good understanding of invasive species issues including introduction pathways, economic and ecological impacts, etc. This approach should help to increase the public acceptance of measures taken to address existing problems as eradication programmes or trade regulation.
These recommendations have been the basis for the work produced by the Belgian Biodiversity Platform on invasive alien species since 2006. Many of these recommendations have therefore already been tackled.