MONITORING AND EARLY WARNING
Several monitoring systems coexist and are used in Belgium, each with their respective audience, purpose and institutional context. Citizen science is a very important complement to the official surveillance performed within the established monitoring schemes. In the baseline and the first reporting round (2000-2018), records originate from citizen science (roughly 60% of all records), scientific institutes (17%) and a number of other sources (23%).
Below you can find a non-exhaustive list of monitoring initiatives for invasive exotic species in Belgium:
- National citizen science recording schemes (e.g. waarnemingen.be/observations.be). The scope ranges from passive surveillance to active surveillance aimed at managing IAS.
- Regional citizen science recording schemes (e.g. in Wallonia - http://biodiversite.wallonie.be/liste-invasives).
- Species-specific monitoring projects (e.g. Vespa velutina in Flanders - https://vespawatch.be).
- General surveillance for various taxonomic groups (e.g. invasive macrophytes, birds, (cray)fish).
- Professional surveillance (e.g. within the framework of Natura 2000 and the Water Framework Directive).
Data gathered by these different monitoring initiatives are used to send early warning messages to field managers in order to carry out prompt eradication actions in the field.
PATHWAY ACTION PLANS
As required in Article 13 of the IAS Regulation, all Member States need to conduct an analysis to identify and prioritise pathways of unintentional introduction and spread of IAS of Union concern. In 2018, Belgium completed this analysis for the first 49 IAS of Union concern listed, and in 2020 it was updated to include the 17 new species of Union Concern.
Based on the results of this prioritisation exercise, Belgium adopted in 2022 a National Action Plan on priority pathways of unintentional introduction and spread. The plan was developed by the National Scientific Secretariat on Invasive Alien Species in cooperation with the relevant administrations of the regional and federal authorities. This plan is divided into three thematic chapters :
1) Thematic action plan on introduction and spread of species through public or private possession;
2) Thematic action plan on introduction and spread of species through recreational and commercial/professional use of freshwater;
3) Thematic action plan on introduction and spread of species through transportation of habitat and nursery material and machinery.
The national action plan can be donwloaded here.
Although there are ongoing management actions in the field in Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels Capital Region (some examples can be consulted here), there is a need for management strategies that are coordinated between the Regions (and even other Member States), and which are implemented and supported by managers in the field. To this end, a Belgian manageability assessment was performed in 2018 by scientists and IAS managers. Invasion scenarios and several management strategies for 43 listed species were described for Belgium and several management strategies were scored for their feasibility and discussed with managers. This data will be taken into account when setting up regional (and national) management goals. Access the full report here. For specific questions pertaining to the management of species in your Region, you can contact the competent authority.
Recently, a LIFE project - the RIPARIAS project- was set up by the Belgian competent authorities to optimize the management of invasive alien species in river areas and ponds across regional borders.