A recent JRC report presents a novel approach for assessing the impact of invasive alien species on ecosystem services: Classification of Invasive Alien Taxa Impacts on Ecosystem Services (CATIES).
As a case study, it shows how the approach can be applied to evaluate the impact of the Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) on pollination.
The cost estimates for some areas are in the millions.
Alien species in Europe
About 14,000 alien species have been recorded in Europe, several of which are invasive alien species (IAS). Sixty-six IAS are on the EU's priority list of species that pose a significant threat to EU biodiversity and ecosystem services, in the frame of the EU's IAS Regulation (EU Regulation 1143/2014).
IAS can also cause significant ecological and socio-economic damages.
Classification of Invasive Alien Taxa Impacts on Ecosystem Services (CATIES)
The JRC's new approach to Classification of Invasive Alien Taxa Impacts on Ecosystem Services (CATIES) can help implement the IAS Regulation by estimating the costs of IAS, thereby showing the benefits of nature conservation and helping to justify the costs of intervention measures.
CATIES builds on the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES), linking the impact of IAS on ecosystem functions to the loss of ecosystem services, and estimating the economic costs involved.
The JRC report applies the CATIES approach to evaluate the impact of the Asian hornet on the pollination of fruit in the EU.
The impact of the Asian hornet on pollination
The Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax, also known as the yellow-legged hornet) is indigenous to Asia, and was accidentally introduced into Southern France in 2004. Since then, it has spread to much of Western Europe, including regions of Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Germany and Italy, and more recently to the United Kingdom.
A voracious predator of pollinating insects, the Asian hornet is listed among the 66 IAS of Union concern due to the serious pressures it places on European honeybee populations, which are already under considerable stress in relation to other pest and diseases (e.g. colony collapse disorder) or pressures related to human activities.
It is estimated that the Asian hornet could be responsible for the loss of up to 65% of bee colonies in infested areas.
Using the best available data from Member States and the European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN), the JRC report overlays maps of the species' range over the distribution of fruit (apples, pears and peaches) pollination in the EU, and calculates the economic loss incurred due to reduced fruit production as a result of predation of pollinating insects.
The study finds that incomes in the agriculture, household and the retail sectors in 21 Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS) zones of Spain, France, Italy and Portugal are the most affected by the Asian hornet's negative effect on pollination.
In Galicia in Spain (NUTS ES11), the annual cost of lost production was estimated at over EUR 4.5 million, while in the Entre Douro e Minho and Trás-os-Montes regions of Portugal (PT11) the loss came to over EUR 2.5 million.
Economic damages for France, which was found to be most impacted by the species, could not be estimated due to lack of data on crop production for any of the mapped zones.
Application of CATIES for policymaking
The CATIES approach provides a quantitative biophysical and economic assessment of the impact of invasive alien species on ecosystem services.
By putting an economic value on the damages caused by IAS, CATIES provides much needed data for assessing the implementation of the EU's IAS regulation (Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014), thereby helping to bridge the current gaps between ecological research and policymaking.
It also provides a common language to share information between different stakeholders and increase public awareness about the importance of nature protection and preservation.
As the old saying goes: money talks.
- Invasive Alien Species impact on Ecosystem Services: Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) case study
- European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN)
- Regulation (EU) No 1143/2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2014 on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species
- List of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern
- EU Biodiversity Strategy
- Mapping and Assessment on Ecosystems and their Services (MAES)
- Mapping Europe's invasive alien species
- New application for tracking invasive alien species with your smartphone
Invasive Alien Species impact on Ecosystem Services: Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) case study
- 10 Oktober 2019