Curious about the 10 most frequently asked questions? Check out the answers below!
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1) WHAT CAN I DO?
- Only buy an exotic animal or plant when you are sure you are allowed to keep it.
- Inform your competent regional authority if you have a pet recently listed under the IAS Regulation that was acquired before the list came into force. Worried? Don’t! Check Question 6 for more info.
- Never release exotic pets, and ensure that escape is impossible.
- Prevent exotic plants from spreading beyond your garden.
- Buy native plants for your garden, pond, or aquarium.
- Never throw aquarium or pond plants into ditches, rivers, or lakes. Dispose of them in your compost bin.
- Click here to read about the use and disposal of aquatic plants.
- Have you spotted invasive alien species in nature? Report your observation on one of the websites below:
2) does this regulation cover alien species that organically spread due to climate change?
No. Species that migrate into the EU in response to climate change don’t fall under this category. Why? They don’t cross ecological boundaries or land in a completely foreign environment. These species are simply following the natural process of adaptation.
3) WHY ARE SOME WELL-KNOWN IAS SUCH AS JAPANESE KNOTWEED NOT INCLUDED IN THE LIST?
The IAS list of Union Concern is not comprehensive. It doesn’t include every invasive species proliferating in Europe. Some well-known IAS haven’t been included because a risk assessment isn’t available (See the ‘Species’ Tab), the risk assessment is still missing mandatory Regulation data, or there simply isn’t enough evidence that the species meets the criteria for inclusion.
Where Japanese Knotweed is concerned, there isn’t enough evidence to prove that its inclusion on the Union List would effectively prevent, minimise or mitigate its adverse impact and be cost-efficient.
4) WHAT IF AN ALIEN INVASIVE SPECIES ISN'T ON THE union LIST?
Each Member State is responsible for combatting invasive alien species on their territory that have yet to make it onto the European Union List. What’s more, Member States are empowered to include invasive alien species on a list of national concern and define relevant measures according to IAS Regulation Article 12. In Belgium, that procedure is detailed in the cooperation agreement.
5) SHOULD EVERY ALIEN SPECIES BE ERADICATED?
No. Exotic species are only of concern if they harm biodiversity, ecosystem services, or the economy. Do they qualify for one of the above? Then they are classified as invasive exotic species.
When an invasive alien species is included in the Invasive Alien Species of Union Concern List, Member States must define management objectives for species already present on their territory. These management objectives include eradication, containment (restricting a species to a single area, regardless of the population count), and control (keeping the population in check).
For the debut appearance of a Union List species, the Member State should fully and permanently eradicate the population from their territory.
6) CAN I KEEP exotic SPECIES on the union list AS PETS?
Yes, private owners of pets acquired up untill one year after the species was put onto the Union list may keep their pets until they die (of natural causes). However, that is under the condition that they cannot escape or reproduce. Your pet may only be moved in the interests of its well-being, e.g. a visit to the vet or stay in a pet hotel, or if you move house.
Your pet does not need to be spayed or neutered, but you are responsible for ensuring that it doesn’t breed. The IAS Regulation does not require you to have a licence for your pet, but other legislation might. Please visit the competent authority’s website to ensure that you and your pet are compliant.
7) WHAT IF I SPOT A LISTED SPECIES IN THE WILD?
As a citizen, you can help curb the invasion of Union List species by reporting your observation in one of the official surveillance systems.
Report your observations here:
8) SHOULD BELGIUM TAKE ACTION AGAINST SPECIES THAT CANNOT BECOME INVASIVE IN BELGIUM?
Yes. Some species may be harmless in Belgium; they may even offer economic or cultural benefits. However, they could cause serious harm in other areas. A cornerstone of the EU is the common market (EEC), which guarantees the free flow of goods. And that makes geographic derogations unfeasible.
The European Union cannot take invasion’s regional variation into account. As soon as an IAS appears within EU borders, it’s impossible to rule out the spread or transport to other Member States, i.e. environments hospitable to colonisation. And, in this day and age, there’s also no guarantee that these exotic species won’t evolve to become invasive due to climate change. They may not pose a threat to the ecosystem now, but the situation is rapidly evolving.
9) WILL there be a full ban on ias of union concern? WHAT IF AN INVASIVE ALIEN SPECIES risks extinction in its AREA OF ORIGIN? OR what IF IT HAS A SPECIAL MEDICINAL VALUE?
The IAS Regulation is flexible enough to leave room for exceptions. And those exceptions facilitate institutional activities that focus on ex-situ conservation (i.e. species conservation outside the species’ country), research, or medicinal applications of specific Union List species. These bodies can apply for a license from their Member State.
Other uses could also be sanctioned, but only in exceptional cases, i.e. for reasons of compelling public interest, including those of a social or economic nature. Whatever the case, controlled conditions must be guaranteed for species containment.
10) WHAT ABOUT COMMERCIAL STOCKS OF union LISTED SPECIES? e.g. PET SHOPS AND GARDEN CENTRES?
The Regulation does provide for commercial stock-related transitional provisions. Business owners have 12 months to exhaust their stock, e.g. by selling these species to non-profit organisations. In turn, the new owners can care for the species until the end of their natural life, provided they are kept and transported under controlled conditions. They must also ensure that all relevant measures are in place to effectively prevent reproduction or escape.
Any stock that remains after the 12-month transitional period must be destroyed or transferred to an establishment with a permit issued by the Belgian authorities for keeping the species.