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EPPO prioritization process for invasive alien plants

 

When initiating the work on invasive alien plants in 2002, the Panel assembled a preliminary list of approximately 500 invasive alien plants in the EPPO region from scientific and technical literature, web sites and official contacts in EPPO member countries with a questionnaire survey. A preliminary prioritization of these species was made by expert judgment considering the following aspects:

  • whether the plant is considered invasive or potentially invasive by several EPPO countries,
  • whether the plant is absent or still containable by appropriate measures in several EPPO countries,
  • the potential of the plant for further spread and damage into significant areas where it is absent,
  • whether the plant is reported to be actively spreading or becoming more damaging in its current distribution area.

Additional information about these selected plants was then gathered from official contacts in EPPO member countries: e.g. on typical habitats, geographical distribution within countries, identification of areas where a species is creating most problems, abundance, existence of current pathways, mode or type of spread, cultivation, official control. 

As there was no widely agreed method to identify those alien plants that are considered invasive and represent the highest priority for Pest Risk Analysis, the Panel on Invasive Alien Plants decided to focus its efforts on the development of the EPPO prioritization process for invasive alien plants.

Decision tree summarizing
the EPPO prioritization process
for invasive alien plants

 

The development of the EPPO prioritization process on invasive alien plants

After several years of development and testing by the Panel on Invasive Alien Plants, the concepts for an EPPO prioritization process for invasive alien plants were published in the EPPO Bulletin:

In September 2012, the EPPO prioritization process for invasive alien plants was adopted as a Standard by the Council of EPPO and then published in the EPPO Bulletin:

 

Aims and structure of the EPPO prioritization process

The EPPO prioritization process is designed:
     (i)  to produce a list of invasive alien plants that are established or could potentially establish in the EPPO region, and
     (ii) to determine which of these have the highest priority for an EPPO Pest Risk Analysis.

All invasive alien plants studied by EPPO were assessed through this process, allowing standardization of the procedure of listing of invasive alien plants as follows:

  • When a new species is identified as a potential threat for the EPPO region (already present in the EPPO region or absent) by a member country or by the EPPO Secretariat, the species is documented through a mini datasheet which is published in the EPPO Reporting Service and is included on the EPPO Alert List.

  • Each species of the EPPO Alert List is assessed individually through the EPPO prioritization process for invasive alien plants by individual experts’ country, and each assessment is then discussed during a dedicated meeting to reach a common opinion for the EPPO region. The process consists of compiling available information on alien plants according to pre-determined criteria, and can be run at the EPPO region level, at country, or local area level. These criteria examine whether the species is alien in the area under study, and whether it is established or not. The information used primarily rely on observations made in the EPPO region but, if the species is not established, the invasive behaviour of the species in other countries also have to be investigated, as well as the suitability of the ecoclimatic conditions in the area under consideration. The spread potential, the possible negative impacts on native species, habitats and ecosystems, as well as on agriculture, horticulture or forestry are considered. 

  • If the species has a high spread potential and has a high impact to Plant Health or the environment and biodiversity, the species may be registered on the EPPO List of invasive alien plants. If information about the plant species is not considered sufficient or if the impacts appear to be moderate, the species is registered on the EPPO Observation List.

  • Species that qualify to be registered on the EPPO List of invasive alien plants proceed to a second set of questions designed to investigate the efficiency of international measures (to be justified through a Pest Risk Analysis) to prevent their entry and spread. This second set of questions determines whether the species is internationally traded or enters new countries through international pathways for which the risk of introduction is superior to natural spread, and whether the species still has a significant suitable area for further spread. The species may then considered to be a priority for Pest Risk Analysis.

  • The Panel then determines which species should be the object of a Expert Working group on PRA (e.g. Expert Working Groups for the PRAs of Hydrocotyle ranunculoides, Lysichiton americanus). Depending on the outcome of the PRA, the species may be included in the A1 and A2 EPPO Lists and recommended for regulation as a quarantine pest.

It is hoped that this prioritization process will provide consistent country lists of invasive alien plant species across the EPPO region, as well as a useful tool for dialogue and information exchange.

 

Further developments

Considering the ease of use and the accurate results provided by the EPPO prioritization process, the Panel considered that the EPPO prioritization process should pass the EPPO consultation system to eventually become an EPPO Standard. Furthermore, the EPPO prioritization process for invasive alien plants is in constant revision and will intend to better address uncertainties as well as to integrate statistical methods to ensure the accuracy of the method.
A computerized version of the EPPO prioritization process is also in development and will also allow storage of all species assessments.

 

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