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Species of Special Concern

The list of Species of Special Concern is one of the main ways we protect our environment, economy and people from harmful invasive species in GB.  The list applies across England, Scotland and Wales and is reviewed and amended at regular intervals.  This page provides more information on the process used to list and de-list species of Special Concern as well as information about species being considered for listing and de-listing.

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The listing process

A decision to list or de-list species of Special Concern in GB is made by Ministers from all three governments.  Their decision is based on the recommendation of the GB Committee for Invasive Non-native Species, which comprises senior officials from Defra, Scottish Government, Welsh Government, and is advised by the Non-native Risk Analysis Forum (NNRAF) - an independent panel of invasive species and risk analysis experts.

In summary, the stages involved in listing new species are:

  • The GB Committee determines which species to consider for listing, taking into account horizon scanning, existing risk assessments, species that have been listed elsewhere and advice from agencies and stakeholders.
  • Comprehensive risk assessments are produced for each species using the GB risk analysis mechanism, which is overseen by the NNRAF. Risk assessments must be signed off by the NNRAF before they are used. 
  • Additional information is gathered about each species, including evidence about presence in captivity, trade and the feasibility of management.
  • Stakeholders are invited to submit relevant evidence and comment on risk assessments throughout this process.
  • The GB Committee reviews all evidence, including from stakeholders and other government departments, and makes a recommendation for listing.
  • Ministers decide which species to list, taking into account the Committee’s recommendations.

Jump to new species being considered for listing by the GB Committee.

Jump to comprehensive review of species of Special Concern and the de-listing of species

Species being considered for listing by the GB Committee

The GB Committee is currently considering 15 new species for addition to the list of Special Concern (listed below).  This does not necessarily mean that these species will be recommended for listing.  The Committee will gather and review appropriate evidence, including evidence submitted by stakeholders, before any recommendation is made.  The recommendation of the Committee is advisory.  Ministers will make the final decision on listing.

Species being considered have been selected by the Committee following:

  • a review of GB horizon scanning lists,
  • the list of species already being risk assessed in GB and;
  • the list of species added to the Union concern list in the EU.

Species were prioritised for consideration based on a combination of factors, including:

  • the stage of invasion of the species in GB;
  • the likely risk posed;
  • the likely effectiveness of listing; and,
  • in some cases, to ensure that it is possible to inspect important pathways of introduction.

Animal species being considered for addition to the list of species of Special Concern:

  • Bellamya chinensis, Chinese mystery snail
  • Didemnum vexillum, Carpet sea-squirt
  • Dikerogammarus bispinosus, an amphipod
  • Neogobius melanostomus, Round goby
  • Ocinebrellus inornatus, Japanese oyster-drill
  • Psittacula eupatria, Alexandrine parakeet
  • Sinanodonta woodiana, Chinese pond mussel
  • Solenopsis richteri, Black imported fire ant
  • Wasmannia auropunctata, Electric ant
  • Urosalpinx cinerea, Atlantic oyster drill

Plant species being considered for addition to the list of species of Special Concern:

  • Acer rufinerve, Snake-bark maple
  • Akebia quinata, Chocolate vine
  • Amelanchier spicata, Thicket shadbush
  • Arundo donax, Giant Cane
  • Sarracenia purpurea, Purple pitcher-plant

These 15 species make up the first cycle of the GB listing process.  We expect it to take 2yrs to collate the considerable evidence required to inform the Committee’s decisions.

Risk assessments for species being considered for listing

Once drafted, risk assessments for species being considered for listing will be available here.  Stakeholders will have three months to comment on the evidence that underpins risk assessments before they are finalised.

List of risk assessments:

  • There are currently no risk assessments available for comment.

Please use form RA01 risk assessment comments (Word) to submit your comments on the evidence underpinning risk assessment. Evidence submitted in any other way will not be considered.

Submitting evidence about species being considered for listing

Stakeholders are encouraged to submit evidence about species being considered for listing to inform the Committee’s deliberations. For example, stakeholders may wish to submit evidence relating to the risk posed by a species, the effectiveness of listing a species or the impact that listing a species could have on trade.

Please use form RA02 species considered for listing – stakeholder evidence (Word) to submit your evidence about species being considered. Evidence submitted in any other way will not be considered.


Comprehensive review and de-listing of species

The list of species of Special Concern is comprehensively reviewed every six years.  The first comprehensive review was completed in April 2022 and the next comprehensive review is due to be completed by August 2028.

As a result of the review, and following the recommendation of the GB Committee, Ministers have decided to de-list the ten species listed below because of their inability to establish in GB under foreseeable climate conditions.  These will remain on the list of species of Special Concern until they are removed from the legislation by statutory instrument. The timescale for this is dictated by parliamentary process and has yet to be confirmed (updates on this timeline will be provided here when they are available).

Animal species that will be removed from the list of species of Special Concern:

  • Herpestes javanicus, small Asian mongoose
  • Nasua nasua, coati
  • Plotosus lineatus, striped eel catfish

Plant species that will be removed from the list of species of Special Concern:

  • Cardiospermum grandiflorum, Balloon vine
  • Ehrharta calycina, perennial veldtgrass
  • Eichhornia crassipes, water hyacinth
  • Parthenium hysterophorus, whitetop weed
  • Pennisetum setaceum, crimson fountaingrass
  • Prosopis juliflora, mesquite
  • Pueraria montana, kudzu vine

Considerations relating to de-listing

Some stakeholders have raised concerns about the potential for the species being de-listed to establish in the future in GB.  Any new evidence relating to the ability of de-listed species to establish in GB will be kept under review and considered at least every 6 years as part of the comprehensive review cycle.