In its Sixth National Report (6NR) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and post-2010 National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP), Norway identifies invasive alien species (IAS), as one of the major threats to biodiversity. Other threats include land conversion and land-use change, climate change and pollution. This best practice highlights the efforts undertaken by Norway, as described in its 6NR and the latest NBSAP, to address IAS in an era of globalization and climate change.
As described in Norway’s 6NR, Norway has undertaken several legislative, policy and management actions - backed by science, to inform and assist efforts to combat IAS in the marine, terrestrial, freshwater and polar ecosystems. These actions collectively provide an overarching framework to control the spread of IAS in Norway. They include:
- Developed a legal framework to combat IAS, which consists of the Nature Diversity Act and regulations relating to alien organisms.
- Conduct surveys to combat and to surveil IAS in selected conservation areas
- Established the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre, which conducts ecological risk assessments of all IAS in Norway, including established IAS and several species known as "door knockers".
- Conducted risk assessments of IAS by the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food and Environment (VKM), which include possible implications for biodiversity, as well as animal and human health.
- Developed several national and local level action plans to control and combat IAS.
- Mobilized resources to combat IAS and to reduce their negative effects on Norwegian biodiversity.
- The national strategy and action plan on IAS from 2007 is under revision and will be published in 2019 - addressing cross-sectoral measures and actions.
- Developed an action plan to prevent the introduction and spread of IAS in Svalbard - Norway’s polar region - to address the growing risks associated with climate change.
- Ratification and implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, to reduce and eliminate the risk of spreading IAS with ballast water.
- Participated in European research programmes to compile and harmonize information about IAS within Europe.
This best practice has been repurposed from Norway’s 6NR, and post-2010 NBSAP.
In recent years, there has been a growing concern in Norway about IAS due to their adverse impact on ecosystems, and associated economic costs. IAS are identified as one of the most important direct drivers for biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation in Norway. The economic cost of IAS in Norway is reviewed in a report from 2015. Link here http://www.miljodirektoratet.no/Documents/Nyhetsdokumenter/VA2014-52_Samfunnsokonomiske_kostnader_av_fremmede_arter.pdf.
For example, natural salmon reproduction has been severely reduced (by 80–90 per cent) in Norwegian rivers infested with the salmon parasite Gyrodactylus salaris. Estimated annual revenue loss in salmon production due to this parasite, is approximately NOK 200–250 million. So far, the actual costs for eradicating the parasite and rebuilding the wild salmon populations in the rivers has amounted to more than NOK 1 billion. Salmon populations will be at risk of extinction unless steps are taken to control this salmon parasite.
Norway’s biodiversity is very diverse, It ranges from the southern deciduous forests to Polar ecosystems.
According to the Norwegian Red List for Species, IAS may pose a threat for 58 threatened or near threatened species in Norway.
The vast majority of IAS in Norway have entered the country by unintentional introduction. “Hitchhikers” on imported plants make up more than one-third of the total IAS. Shipping, including ballast water discharges, and imports of timber are also important pathways of introduction. Horticulture, and park/garden design and maintenance activities are the largest sources of deliberate introductions of alien species.
The most recent IAS arrivals include the Pacific oyster, wild boar, pink salmon and Senecio inaequidens . Additionally, in Norway’s polar regions, rapid warming is also weakening the climatic barrier to the spread of alien organisms from temperate waters, and there is a growing risk that such organisms may find a foothold and spread further in Svalbard and the Arctic sea areas.
The Norwegian government focuses its efforts to contain and control the spread of IAS through prevention i.e. avoiding the introduction of IAS in the first place; and an early detection and a rapid response system, to eradicate IAS before it spreads too widely.
According to Norway’s 6NR, some of the key actions undertaken to combat IAS at the policy, legislative, and governance level include:
Legal and policy framework
- Laws on IAS. The legal framework to combat IAS consists of The Nature Diversity Act (2009), Regulations relating to alien organisms (2016); Regulations relating to the spread of IAS in ballast water (2010); and regulations on the importation and planting of foreign tree species (2012).
Based on an evaluation being carried out on the consequences of a possible ban on the use of foreign forest tree species which are high risk for Norwegian nature, the government will decide if a proposal for such a ban should be sent for a public hearing. The evaluation report will be ready by 15 February 2019.
- The National Strategy on IAS. There is cooperation throughout the sectors to combat IAS, including national customs authorities. The Ministry of Climate and Environment, in cooperation with other relevant ministries, is developing a comprehensive Strategy for the management of IAS. This is a revision of a similar plan from 2007, and will be finalized in 2019. These actions collectively provide an overarching framework to control the spread of IAS in Norway.
- Action Plan for polar ecosystem of Svalbard. In addition to national and local level action plans to control and combat IAS, an action plan has also been developed to prevent the introduction and spread of IAS in the polar ecosystem of Svalbard. The action plan aims to implement corresponding measures to contain, control, eradicate and monitor IAS.
- National Biodiversity Targets, NBSAPs. Norway’s national biodiversity targets under its post-2010 NBSAP, reflect some of its key commitments to combat the adverse impact of IAS on marine biodiversity and biodiversity in freshwater, wetlands, forest, mountains and in cultural landscapes. These national targets are aligned to ABT 9 (https://bit.ly/2wdZXHS), which focuses on the reduction of threats to biodiversity and ecosystems from IAS.
- Plant sanitary regulations. Plant sanitary regulations are an important contribution to prevent the introduction of IAS. For example, in the food sector, environmental impacts are being taken into consideration during the development of new regulations and in the management of existing regulations. There is also an extensive plant health control system that helps prevent the introduction and spread of IAS.
Management and Scientific Measures to Combat IAS
- Measures to combat IAS. The county governor and the Norwegian Nature Inspectorate (SNO) conduct surveys, surveillance and take measures to combat IAS in selected conservation areas. Municipalities also take measures against some select IAS. They share the objective of identifying and prioritizing distribution routes, as well as measures to prevent the introduction and dissemination of IAS, which is considered as achieved when the regulations for this purpose are in place. However, there is a need to introduce measures against several IAS to avoid negative consequences and costs for society later.
- IAS Risk Assessment: After 2007, the Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre (NIBC) published the Norwegian Black List 2012 and the revised Alien species List 2018. IAS are placed in one of the five impact categories, depending on how serious a threat they are considered to native biodiversity. Severe impact species (Pacific Oyster, American mink and Fallopia japonica), for example, are capable of outcompeting native species or hybridizing with them.
- Monitoring & Reporting: Among other monitoring measures, the national portal for species observations, "Artsobservasjoner", encourages volunteers to report observations of IAS.
- Capacity Building: The Network for Environmental Education in Norway has been established to facilitate cooperation between schools, environmental management, research institutions and voluntary organizations. The Network is a joint effort of a number of ministries and the Norwegian Directorate. The network’s website – miljolare.no, provides information to the general public, including interactive map services, on e.g. endangered and invasive alien species. The network’s activities, for example, describe how schools can collaborate with local government and research institutions to investigate, maintain or improve the environment in its vicinity.
- Norway also participates in European research programmes. The recently concluded (2017) EU COST Action on alien species – a research network, brought together experts from Europe and across the world to work collaboratively to compile and harmonize information about IAS within Europe. The CST Program on IAS still continues to contribute to scientific research.
- Norway is also actively involved in a wide international cooperation network which has been established within the plant sector, to prevent the natural spread of IAS into new areas. This cooperation aims to reduce the spread of IAS through trade. There is generally high awareness in Norwegian plant health management and in international plant collaboration on the negative consequences of the introduction and spread of IAS.
- The Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre (NBIC) offers wider cooperation with similar organizations in other countries such as the Swedish Species Information Centre (ArtDatabanken), as well as, international institutions such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). This cooperation contributes to strengthen the exchange of information across national borders, and helps to increase and disseminate knowledge on biodiversity.
- To combat IAS, the Norway government provides financial support for: learning, knowledge management, risk assessments, and activities to contain, control and eradicate IAS. The Norwegian Environment Agency has over the last three years increased the budget for funding projects.
- Preventive measures are one of the best ways to combat IAS.
- Strong research, mapping and monitoring systems, and technical capacities are key to address the environmental challenges posed by IAS.
- Coordinated actions at the policy, legislative, scientific and governance level, including cross-sectoral management plans, are critical to inform and assist efforts to combat IAS. These actions collectively provide an overarching framework to design and control their spread.
- Regional and international cooperation are vital for a collective response to combat IAS. This can be achieved through the establishment of interdisciplinary research programs, and exchange of technical information among scientific, technical experts and policy makers.
- Adequate financial resources are imperative to successfully implement national and regional level strategies to combat IAS.
- Climate change will increase the risk of new IAS becoming established, and the further spread of already established species. Both research and awareness are essential to deal with these problems.
- Enhanced public awareness and knowledge are vital to prevent the spread of IAS, for example, through illegal fishing, boats and fishing gear.
According to CBD’s evaluation entitled “Analysis of Targets Established by Parties and Progress Towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets”, Norway is on track to achieve its national target to combat IAS. The CBD analysis provides a preliminary synthesis of each Parties’ national progress towards ABTs, based on information presented in 6NRs.