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1. Introduction

In March 2004, the “Invasive species in Ireland” report was presented to both Ministers and it was agreed that EHS and NPWS would work together and with others to examine the implications of the report. The ‘Invasive Species in Ireland’ project started in May 2006 and this joint EHS/NPWS contract is being undertaken by a partnership of Quercus and EnviroCentre to take forward the recommendations of the report in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
2. Objectives
The objectives of the project are to take forward actions which address the key recommendations outlined in the ‘Invasive Species in Ireland’ report, and the main recommendations of the Zebra Mussel Management Strategy, namely:
  • Reducing the risks of invasions of new species (Section 1, 3, 5 and 6);
  • Developing contingency plans in conjunction with stakeholders (Section 1);
  • Producing management plans to help control and manage new and established invasive species and vectors (Section 1);
  • Engaging key stakeholders (Section 1, 3, 4, and 5);
  • Developing codes of good practise in conjunction with stakeholders (Section 3);
  • Raising public awareness (Section 2, 3 and 5);
  • Recommending surveillance, monitoring and recording programmes (Section 4); and
  • Reviewing legislation (Section 6)
3. Requirements
Section 1. Risk assessments
This section is a pro-active measure to identify invasive species that potentially threaten biodiversity in Ireland, as characterised by criteria such as the Habitats and Birds Directives, Water Framework Directive and Species and Habitat Action Plans and lists of Priority Species for Conservation Action in Northern Ireland. Exclusion strategies and contingency plans are a means of dealing with risk species in advance of their arrival after identification of the threat, and are made ready for implementation upon the discovery of such species at various stages of the introduction-establishment-invasion process.

A considerable number of alien species are well established in Ireland. Many bring benefits to society and commerce. Many present no threat to biodiversity, other established species represent potential future threats. Few have fully-considered plans for managing and controlling these threats. A leading example is the evaluation of impacts of zebra mussels and plans for managing the problem.

Requirement 1: Preparation of risk assessments, exclusion strategies and contingency plans for species that are likely to invade Ireland but are not yet known here.

Requirement 2: Preparation of risk assessments and management plans for established invasive species, taking into account the implications arising under new legislation and Directives.

Section 2. Responding to new species invasions.
A number of barriers exist that prevent rapid responses to new invasions. These can best be tackled by high-level involvement in formulating and executing contingency plans. To a degree there is high level involvement in this issue already, since the recommendations in the “Invasive Species in Ireland” report were made directly to Ministers. The project aims to build on this involvement and to establish clear lines of responsibility for addressing problems that transcend departmental and jurisdictional territories. Requirement 3: Provide a rapid response facilitation in the event of a newly reported invasion or new occurrences of invasive species at the request of EHS or NPWS.
Section 3. Stakeholder engagement
Public engagement is critical to preventing species invasions. Similarly commercial stakeholders must not be alienated from this process, since this will place an unrealistic regulatory/enforcement burden on the State. Public awareness campaigns must target existing knowledge of and empathy with biodiversity and trade issues and enhance understanding of the threats posed to these interests by invasive species. However, in developing awareness campaigns the sometime negative reaction of the public to eradication campaigns must be taken into account and addressed. Preventing the spread of invasive species is an issue of shared responsibility and the approach taken aims to be inclusive of all stakeholder groups, maximise use of current resources and minimise duplication of effort.

Requirement 4: Stakeholder engagement.

Requirement 5: Development of ‘Codes of Good Practise’ in conjunction with stakeholders.

Requirement 6: Development and delivery of education and awareness programmes.

Requirement 7: Engagement with relevant Government Departments.

Section 4. Monitoring, surveillance and recording.
Monitoring programmes are usually undertaken for invasive species once they are already established and are having economic and/or ecological impacts. However, alien species may be present in an ecosystem for many years before they become invasive and start causing problems, known as a lag phase. Usually it is only when they become a problem that control or eradication attempts are made, often when it is too late. Regular surveillance for alien invasive species is needed so control or eradication attempts may be made at an early stage. Surveillance needs to occur at different spatial scales. In Ireland, the botanical recording system provides a good basis for surveillance linked into county databases but a list of unwanted species is needed. At a more local level, wildlife and countryside agencies can undertake surveillance as part of ongoing programmes. In delivering such programmes early liaison with CEDar would be required to update RECORDER with invasive species distribution records and to encourage the public to use this monitoring and investigation system.

Lake surveillance programmes should monitor characteristic and/or novel species, truly aquatic plants, marginal plants e.g. Japanese knotweed and tree planting and land use changes. Early identification of an invasive species is important because the lag phase of different species is variable. Some species will require a rapid response if control or eradication programmes are to be successful. A surveillance programme will involve collation and co-ordination of records, 5-10 yearly surveys of the habitats, focused opportunistic surveys and focused site surveys. Surveillance for invasive species should involve all stakeholders so it is necessary to raise awareness of the issues associated with invasive species. Therefore the development of any monitoring, surveillance and recording programmes will be closely linked to stakeholder engagement programmes which raise the profile of invasive species through articles and presentations and providing necessary information such as identification guides.

Requirement 8: Recommend monitoring, surveillance and recording programmes

Section 5. Review
Undertaking reviews in conjunction with the stakeholder engagement elements of the contract mean that any review of progress will be inclusive and enable the identification of barriers to progress across the range of stakeholder groups.

Requirement 9: Review the progress after 2 years and make recommendations for future work required.

Requirement 10: Organise conference with stakeholders and present findings and recommendations.

Requirement 11: Provide general advice in relation to invasive species work.

Requirement 13: A short report on opportunities for partnership working and to link into European and other funding to carry out invasive species work, both locally and at an all- Ireland level.

Section 6. Legislation
The Quercus report highlighted the requirements and provisions for dealing with invasive species at a variety of legislative levels. However, the report stopped short of formulating new policy or addressing requirements for legislative reform. The project will take this analysis further into policy development and that this requires specialist skills held by environmental lawyers.

Requirement 12: Review legislative provisions and make recommendations for improvements.

4. Project Outputs
The main deliverables from the project are detailed in the specific project outputs a) to n).
Specific output Description Requirement
a Risk assessments identifying species presenting highest risk 1, 2
b Costed contingency plans 1
c Costed management strategies 2
d Codes of good practise 5
e Report recommending monitoring, surveillance and recording 8
f Report reviewing legislative provisions 12
g Report on opportunities for partnership working and funding Additional requirement 13
h Recommend effective system for recording and dissemination 8
i Education and awareness programmes 6
j Information provision for key stakeholders 4, 6, 7
k Delivery of targeted public awareness campaigns 6
l Co-ordination of meetings, conferences and seminars 4, 7, 10
m Interim report to conference and steering group 9
n Organise a conference 10
5. Terms of reference for groups
The terms of reference for the groups are set out to ensure that activity in relation to invasive species is well co-ordinated and supported within the whole of Ireland. The activities of the various groups will facilitate effective communication between the relevant government agencies, the private and voluntary sectors.

The terms of reference listed below for the Invasive Species Groups will be reviewed on a yearly basis:

Steering Group
Relevant actions to be considered by the group include:

  • Overseeing the contract specification and work programme;
  • Prioritising work under available resources;
  • Consider invasive species priorities under relevant legislation.
The remit of the Invasive Species Steering Group includes:
  • The prioritisation of the work programme for the contract.
  • The identification and co-ordination of activity on Invasive Species, both within and beyond the scope of the contract.
  • The identification and support of research needs.
  • Oversee the Invasive Species Work Programme.
  • The provision of Invasive Species advice to Government.
Invasive Species Forum
It is proposed that the consultative Forum will meet once a year to exchange information, agree priorities and allow stakeholder participation. Relevant actions to be considered by the group include:
  • Overseeing the implementation of the recommendations of the Invasive species in Ireland report, contract specification and work programme;
  • Prioritising work under available resources;
  • Consider invasive species priorities under relevant legislation.
  • Incorporate wider stakeholder interests
  • Information sharing
Technical Working Groups
There are four technical working groups (Marine, Terrestrrial, Freshwater, Education and Awareness) consisting of representative from EHS, NPWS, other key Government Departments and key stakeholders. The chair and one other will represent the group at the Steering Group meetings. Relevant actions to be considered by the group include:
  • Providing technical input and support to the contractors;
  • Share experiences and knowledge;
  • Engage with stakeholder interests;
  • Consider invasive species priorities under relevant legislation.
Contract Group
Relevant actions to be considered by the group include:
  • Approval of expenses on a regular basis
  • Approval of invoices on a quarterly basis
  • Establishing and monitoring performance measures.
  • Ensure outputs are costed as per tender document.

For further information on the Invasive Species Programme please contact:
Joanne Livingstone (EHS) on joanne.livingstone at
Peter Carvill (NPWS) on peter_carvill at
Cathy Maguire (Envirocentre –Project manager) on cmaguire at
Robbie McDonald (Quercus) on r.a.mcdonald at