EU to combat alien invaders

They grow to up to 60cm, inhabit wetlands, and build burrows for their families from vegetation and mud where they can snack on plants and small frogs in peace.

No, the furry muskrat may not sound like a dangerous foreign invader, but it is one of the alien species threatening Europe’s native biodiversity, according to the EU, which has launched a survey looking for solutions to the spread of animals and plants from abroad.

The internet consultation, which will run until May 5, is appealing for organisations, individuals and businesses across Europe to submit their wisdom on dealing with invasive alien species (IAS).

The results will help EU chiefs draw up a framework for tackling IAS, which is set to be adopted by the end of the year.

EU commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “We know that invasive species are one of the major threats to biodiversity, and that economies often suffer as a result, but we lack a harmonised system for tackling the problem and assessing its impact.

“A strong public response to this survey will help Europe define the problem more clearly, and ultimately help us develop a suitable mechanism to halt it altogether.”

Although some foreign plant and animal species introduced to Europe, such as rhododendrons and potatoes, have proved beneficial to life in Europe, others can cause extensive damage and compete with native populations.

In Germany, more than Euro 40m a year has to be spent on repairing the damage done to river banks and embankments by muskrats and exotic plants such as knotweed and giant hogweed.

To take part in the survey, visit

Kate Martin

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