Action plan for information on invasive alien species

Implementation ‘roadmap’ commits key partners to harmonize data needed to tackle threat to biodiversity from invasives


Government experts meeting under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have endorsed a wide-ranging programme to strengthen information available to decision-makers on the spread of invasive alien species (IAS).

The plan, presented to the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) in Montreal, arose from a workshop held at the GBIF Secretariat in Copenhagen in September, where experts agreed on an unprecedented level of collaboration on the means to share global IAS data.

The Joint Work Programme (JWP, see document UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/15/INF/14, available at unites eight information service providers behind nearly 50 action points aimed at combining and harmonizing data on IAS from a wide range of different databases and networks.

The aim is to contribute towards Target 9 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets agreed in Japan last year, which commits parties to the CBD to eradicate priority invasive alien species by 2020, and control pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.

In the text agreed by government representatives at the Montreal meeting, the subsidiary body ”welcomes the work of GBIF to improve the interoperability of online databases and networks, and facilitate the use of information necessary to conduct risk and/or impact assessment, and encourages the Parties, Governments and relevant institutions and organizations to participate in developing interoperable information systems that can be used in developing early-detection and rapid-response systems.”

The text goes on to welcome the proposed JWP to strengthen information services on invasive alien species, and requests the Executive Secretary of the CBD to facilitate its implementation.

The JWP sets out a series of practical tasks divided between the participating initiatives, aimed at strengthening, standardizing and sharing information.

The information services involved are: GBIF; the Invasive Species Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature; the CABI Invasive Species Compendium; FishBase; Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe; the European Network on Invasive Alien Species; the Global Invasive Species Information Network; and the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network Invasives Information Network.

The specific activities to be led by GBIF in the JWP include:

  • incorporating information on invasive alien species in the fields available to data publishers using GBIF-approved standards;
  • promoting the use of the GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) to publish data for IAS;
  • ‘tagging’ species in the GBIF Data Portal to make it easier to extract country lists of invasive alien species, and making the millions of existing records on IAS available to other information systems;
  • promoting the use of the Global Names Architecture – the infrastructure developed by GBIF to help identify names used in various taxonomic references and/or checklists; and
  • helping identify gaps in data on IAS and developing strategies to mobilize them.

GBIF Executive Secretary Nicholas King said: “We are delighted to have been able to broker this ground-breaking agreement to collaborate on strengthening invasive alien species data.

“The CBD recognizes IAS as one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss, and decision-makers need standardized, readily-discoverable information if they are to meet the targets agreed at Nagoya last year.

“The endorsement of this Joint Work Programme cements GBIF’s role as a neutral service-provider and convenor, working to bring together diverse partners across the global biodiversity information community and develop joint solutions of benefit to all.”

David Cooper, Principal Officer at the CBD Secretariat added, “Addressing the threat posed by invasive alien species is an essential element of the mission to halt biodiversity loss. A vital first step is to ensure that decision-makers have the best information at their disposal, and this joint work programme will help to bring that about.

“It is very encouraging to see the various information service providers working so constructively together, and the CBD Secretariat will do what it can to help facilitate this ambitious work programme.”

The chair of the IUCN’s Species Survival Commission, Simon Stuart, also welcomed the agreement of the Joint Work Programme. He said: “Sharing science-based information on biodiversity is a core business for IUCN and therefore we strongly support this initiative, based on the commitment of all main global data publishers - including the IUCN Invasive Species Specialist Group that maintains the Global Invasive Species Database - to work together to improve access to key information on invasive species.”


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