European campaign 'Beware of Aliens' takes off
Europe’s battle against invasive alien species
Currently, 88 animal and plant species are labelled by Europe as 'invasive alien species'. These are species that ended up in Europe after they were taken from their natural habitat by humans - intentionally or unintentionally. Unfortunately, this often has consequences. Plants and animals that do not belong in Europe can cause a variety of problems: there is not only the economic damage (accounting for €12 billion a year in the EU), but invasive alien species can also threaten our native species. Both invasive and native species often seek the same places to forage, to shelter or nest. Moreover, invasive alien species can also spread diseases, fungi or parasites. They can even endanger human health.
That is why the 88 invasive alien species are now listed in an EU regulation: it is forbidden to import, transport, sell or buy the animals and plants on this list. And as everything starts with recognising a species and understanding its impact, Europe has launched a new campaign in October 2022 that goes by the name Beware of Aliens.
"Beware of Aliens" - Europe battles against invasive alien species
Beware of Aliens is the name of a major European campaign to raise awareness of invasive alien species among citizens and organisations. Beware of Aliens was rolled out across Europe in October 2022 in 11 languages. Visuals, videos and accessible information teach citizens and organisations to recognise aliens and to become aware the impact. The campaign is coordinated by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) and Atlantic Technical University (Ireland). Government agencies, trade organisations, NGOs and research institutes from all over Europe are also joining the project. For Flanders, INBO is taking the lead.
Tim Adriaens, senior scientist at INBO: "Citizens, researchers and companies have a shared responsibility in caring for nature. Prevention is the most important thing to prevent new introductions of invasive species. For instance, bio-safe working practices, conscious buying and planting behaviour and responsible pet keeping are very important. Communication can help raise awareness."
Beware of Aliens approaches six target groups with a separate key message:
- Owners of aquatic ornamentals
- Aquatic recreation
- Forest visitors and forest workers
- Soil transport companies
- Pet owners
Want to learn more about and recognise invasive alien animals and plants?
- Check out the online brochure with the 88 invasive alien species.
- Install an app on your smartphone to report invasive alien species to EASIN
- Test your knowledge by means of an online game.