Protected Areas

Tu, M. 2009. “Assessing and Managing Invasive Species within Protected Areas.” Protected Area Quick Guide Series. Editor, J. Ervin. Arlington, VA. The Nature Conservancy. 40 pp.


One of the most severe threats to Protected Areas around the globe is invasive alien species (IAS). IAS are non-indigenous species that may spread quickly and aggressively when introduced by humans to areas beyond their normal ranges and can decrease native biodiversity and cause dramatic environmental changes. In fact, IAS are widely recognized as posing threats to biological diversity second only to direct habitat loss and fragmentation, and have been implicated in the decline of endangered species worldwide (Baillie et al. 2004; Wilson 1992). It is therefore imperative to address IAS threats to preserve the values and functions of Protected Areas, and the biological wealth and support they provide to the livelihoods of millions of people.

Preventing new invasions is the most efficient approach to addressing this threat, followed by quickly detecting and eradicating or containing new IAS that do become established. New invasions should be treated as urgent problems because although they can be eliminated or contained with relatively small efforts, they will cause far greater damage and become increasingly expensive and perhaps impossible to control if they are allowed to expand. A comprehensive strategy to effectively manage

Protected Areas from the IAS threat therefore requires addressing IAS at the level of site/Protected Area, Protected Area system, and via national and international-scale policies, including:

  • Awareness of invasive alien species threats
  • Assessment of current and potential threats and pathways
  • Prevention practices and policies
  • Early detection and rapid response
  • Management, control and restoration
  • Secured and maintained funding

In February 2004, 188 countries committed to the Convention on Biological Diversity’s “Programme of Work on Protected Areas,” an ambitious set of activities aimed at establishing and maintaining comprehensive, effectively managed, and ecologically representative national and regional Protected Area terrestrial systems by 2010 and marine systems by 2012. The CBD recognizes the importance of invasive alien species as a global issue and calls on contracting parties to “prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats and species” (Article 8(h)). At the 2008 CBD Conference of the Parties (COP-9) in Bonn, Germany, a number of countries committed to specific invasive species prevention and control actions and funding. Provided that there is awareness, capacity and sustained resources, IAS threats to Protected Areas can be abated.

This quick guide was written to provide Protected Area managers with guidance on how to create a comprehensive assessment and strategic plan for IAS, as a basis for action. Download the quick guide from the following link:

Invasive Species Northern Ireland

Invasive Species Northern Ireland