Invasive flora species in Mediterranean Wetlands

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Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Wetlands are critical habitats and highly productive ecosystems, providing environmental, social and economic services to the local communities (so-called ecosystem services). Their importance is recognized by the RAMSAR Convention, which aims at the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation. However, these unique ecosystems are highly susceptible to invasions by alien species, primarily due to the habitat degradation from human based activities. In Europe, at least 260 different alien plants are considered established in inland waterways.

A recent study led by University of Valencia monitored the number of alien flora in three Mediterranean Wetlands: Valencia Community, Balearic Islands, and Sardinia. In total, 380 alien taxa have been recorded, including 77 invasive species, of which 9 were common in the three areas and have been recognised as the most invasive in Mediterranean islands, while 6 are considered invasive worldwide. The analysis of introduction pathways, revealed that most of the alien species recorded, introduced intentionally by humans, were originally used as ornamental plants.

Despite the global and national recognition of their importance, Europe’s wetlands remain under severe pressure from land use, pollution etc.  The degradation of such habitats, is the main driver for the dispersal of invasive species that can damage wetlands’ capacity to provide ecosystem services.

The Council of Europe designed a voluntary code of conduct on pets and invasive alien species including guidelines for ornamental plants used in gardens, ponds, aquaria or homes. In addition, a list of invasive alien species of Union concern can be found in the Commission Implementing Reg. 1141/2016.

 

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AlterIAS LIFE Project

IAP-RISK LIFE Project

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