EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation – Defra Briefing note


  • It is important that we take action to address the threats posed by invasive non-native species. They threaten the survival of our own plants and animals and cost the economy at least £1.8 billion a year.
  • The UK has a well-developed GB Strategy to tackle invasive species, and releasing a non-native animal or a listed non-native plant is already an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. However, without an EU scheme we cannot guard against arrivals from the EU within the single market, and neither can other Member States guard against arrivals from the UK.
  • A new EU Regulation on Invasive Alien Species (1143/2014) came into force in January 2016. Its aim is to prevent, eradicate or manage invasive non-native species. To achieve this, the Regulation contains a number of prohibitions (on keeping, movement, sale, breeding, or releasing etc) as well as requirements for Member States to put in place surveillance and rapid response mechanisms and to develop pathway and management action plans.
  • The EU regulation sets out strict criteria to select species that require and will benefit from EU-wide regulatory controls. The criteria are that the species must be:
    • alien to the EU;
    • capable of establishing in the wild in at least 3 Member States;
    • likely to have a significant adverse effect on biodiversity in those countries;
    • shown to require concerted action at Union level; and,
    • shown to benefit from the actions provided for by the Regulation.
  • On 4 December Member States voted to accept 37 species; 14 plants and 23 animals; as the first tranche of species to be controlled under the EU Regulation. We are now awaiting the necessary EU legislation to bring this into force around summer 2016.
  • The prohibited actions only relate to intentional acts and not, for example, to allowing plants to remain in a person’s garden. Transitional provisions also apply to allow a pet owners and zoos to keep their animals until the end of their natural lives and to allow traders to sell existing stock.
  • The list includes a number of species which either cannot establish in the UK (because of our climate) as well as some which are already present in the wild. However, all the species have been shown to be harmful on several Member States and without a ban on trade those countries could continue to be under threat because of the single market. For species already present we will have to ensure that our management plans are sufficient to prevent the spread of these species, particularly to other Member States.
  • Additional information on what the UK is doing to tackle invasive non-native species and how the EU Regulation will apply, can be found at: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/home/index.cfm

 Key questions and answers:

 Pet owners and pet trade

  • No pet will have to be put down, only prevented from breeding and unable to be released, sold etc. All pets will be able to live out their natural lives in captivity.
  • There are approximately 5,000 species of exotic pet in the UK, only 8 are being listed.
  • Most of the species on the list are held by a small number of enthusiasts (dozens or hundreds compared to millions for dogs, cats, rabbits etc.)

Zoos and wildlife parks

  • No zoo animal will have to be put down, only prevented from breeding and unable to be sold, prevented from escaping etc. All individuals will be able to live out their natural lives in captivity.
  • Only 7 species from the list are kept in zoos to any extent and the numbers are relatively small.

Horticulture trade

  • Only 8 species of plant that are currently traded in the UK are listed – out of 70,000 species in the horticulture sector.
  • Traders can continue to sell existing stocks of species for 12 months after they are listed

EU Listed plants in gardens

  • There will be no attempt to remove species listed on the EU Regulation from peoples’ gardens so long as they are acting responsibly and not encouraging them to spread.

LIST OF SPECIES OF UNION CONCERN – click on the link for available fact sheets


  1. American skunk cabbage Lysichiton americanus
  2. Asiatic tearthumb Persicaria perfoliata (Polygonum perfoliatum)  
  3. Curly waterweed Lagarosiphon major    – ID_Lagarosiphon_major__(Curly_waterweed)   
  4. Eastern Baccharis Baccharis halimifolia
  5. Floating pennywort  Hydrocotyle ranunculoides    – ID_Hydrocotyle_rancuncluoides_(floating_pennywort) 
  6. Floating primrose willow Ludwigia peploides     – ID_Ludwigia_grandiflora__(Water_Primrose)   
  7. Green cabomba Cabomba caroliniana    – ID_Cabomba_caroliniana_(Carolina_Watershield_or_Fanwort) 
  8. Kudzu vine Pueraria lobata
  9. Parrot’s feather Myriophyllum aquaticum  – ID_Myriophyllum_aquaticum_(Parrots_feather)
  10. Persian hogweed Heracleum persicum     
  11. Sosnowski’s hogweed Heracleum sosnowskyi   
  12. Water hyacinth Eichhornia crassipes      – ID_Water_hyacinth_(Eichhornia_crassipes)
  13. Water primrose Ludwigia grandiflora – ID_Ludwigia_grandiflora__(Water_Primrose)
  14. Whitetop weed Parthenium hysterophorus        


  1. Amur sleeper  Perccottus glenii            
  2. Asian hornet Vespa velutina    – ID_Vespa_velutina_(Asian_Hornet)_2.0
  3. Chinese mitten crab Eriocheir sinensis      – ID_Chinese_mitten_crab_(Eriocheir_sinensis)   
  4. Coypu Myocastor coypus          
  5. Fox squirrel Sciurus niger                 
  6. Grey squirrel Sciurus carolinensis        
  7. Indian house crow Corvus splendens     – ID_Corvus_slendens_(Indian_House_Crow)     
  8. Marbled crayfish Procambarus spp. – ID_crayfish
  9. Muntjac deer Muntiacus reevesii        – ID_muntjac_deer
  10. North american bullfrog Lithobates (Rana) catesbeianus – ID_Lithobates_catesbeianus_(Bull_Frog)
  11. Pallas’s squirrel Callosciurus erythraeus
  12. Raccoon Procyon lotor     
  13. Red swamp crayfish Procambarus clarkii        – ID_crayfish
  14. Red-eared terrapin/slider Trachemys scripta elegans       – ID_Trachemys_scripta_elegans_(Red-eared_Terrapin)       
  15. Ruddy duck Oxyura jamaicensis        – ID_Oxyura_jamaicensis_(Ruddy_duck)
  16. Sacred ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus – ID_Threskiornis_aethiopicus_(Sacred_Ibis)
  17. Siberian chipmunk Tamias sibiricus    –   ID_Tamias_sibiricus_(Siberian_Chipmunk)
  18. Signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus – ID_crayfish
  19. Small Asian mongoose Herpestes javanicus
  20. South American coati Nasua nasua      – ID_Nasua_nasua_(Coatmundi)  
  21. Spiny-cheek crayfish Orconectes limosus        – ID_crayfish
  22. Topmouth gudgeon Pseudorasbora parva     
  23. Virile crayfish Orconectes virilis        – ID_crayfish