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EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation

EU Regulation (1143/2014) (external link) on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien (non-native) species was retained in domestic law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (external link). The Regulation was retained upon exit from the EU. Over time, divergence is expected between the species lists, and potentially the provisions, of the Retained Regulation, in the EU as compared with England, Scotland and Wales.

Read more about the Regulation and other EU legislation that has been retained upon exit from the EU in England and Wales and Scotland.

The following links provide more information about the EU IAS regulation itself:

Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats

The UK government ratified the Bern Convention in 1982. It is a binding international legal instrument in the field of nature conservation, which covers most of the natural heritage of the European continent and extends to some states of Africa. Its aims are to conserve wild flora and fauna and their natural habitats and to promote European co-operation in that field. It states under Article 11(2)(b) that each Contracting Party to the Convention undertakes to "strictly control the introduction of non-native species". Read more about the Convention (external link). The obligations in the Convention are transposed into UK law by the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981 as amended); Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended); Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985; and the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985.

Bonn Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals

The UK ratified the Convention on Migratory Species in 1985. Its principal aim is the conservation of migratory species worldwide. In order to avoid any migratory species becoming endangered, contracting parties must endeavour to provide immediate protection for migratory species included in Appendix I. To protect endangered migratory species, contracting parties to the Convention will also endeavour: to conserve or restore the habitats of endangered species; to prevent, remove, compensate for or minimise the adverse effects of activities or obstacles that impede the migration of the species; and to the extent feasible and appropriate, to prevent, reduce or control factors that are endangering or are likely to further endanger the species. Read more about the Convention (external link).

International conventions

The UK is also a contracting party to international conventions:

Convention on Biological Diversity

States under Article 8(h) that each Contracting Party shall "prevent the introduction of, control or eradicate those alien species which threaten ecosystems, habitats or species". In December 2022, the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) was adopted by the 15th Conference of Parties to the CBD.  The GBF sets out 23 action-oriented targets for the global community that are designed to reduce threats to biodiversity, meet people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing and provide tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming.  Target 6 is the main target relating to invasive species. Read more on the CBD and Target 6

Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention)

The Convention on Wetlands, signed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971, is an intergovernmental treaty which provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

Article 196 of this Convention requires Member States to take all measures necessary to prevent, reduce and control the intentional or accidental introduction of species (non-native or new) to a particular part of the marine environment, which may cause significant and harmful changes.

International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)

The IPPC is a 1951 multilateral treaty deposited with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that aims to secure coordinated, effective action to prevent and to control the introduction and spread of pests of plants and plant products. An intergovernmental treaty signed by over 180 countries, its key aims are:

  • Protecting the world's plant resources from the spread and introduction of pests
  • Promoting safe trade
  • The Convention introduced International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs) as its main tool to achieve its goals, making it the sole global standard setting organization for plant health. The IPPC is one of the "Three Sisters" recognized by the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) Agreement, along with the Codex Alimentarius Commission for food safety standards and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) for animal health standards.

International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments

The International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments (the Convention) was adopted in 2004 and came into force on 8 September 2017. It sets out regulations which address the spread of invasive non-native species by ships’ ballast water and sediments.

The United Kingdom implemented the requirements of this convention through the Merchant Shipping (Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments) Regulations 2022. View more information on ballast water.