Invasive alien species: a prioritised list for risk assessment

© Umweltbundesamt/M. Deweis

Vienna, 3 October 2017 - According to estimates, around 10% of the more than 12 000 invasive alien animal and plant species may pose a threat to biodiversity in Europe. For most of these species there are no standardised EU-wide risk assessments. An international team of researchers, including Umweltbundesamt (Environment Agency Austria) expert Wolfgang Rabitsch, provides concrete suggestions as to which of these species should be prioritised for risk assessment in the next few years.


In an article of the renowned “Journal of Applied Ecology” the experts propose a ranked order of priority and an ambitious time horizon for new risk assessments. Thus the number of risk assessments is to be raised from currently 10-15 per year to around 50 per year. By 2018, the 59 high priority species are to undergo a complete risk assessment. They are those species which are assumed (after a first simplified assessment) to have a profound adverse impact on native biodiversity. They include the mink (Neovison vison), Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) or the common lionfish (Pterois miles). By 2020 another 148 are to be assessed and by 2030 around 350 species.

EU list of invasive alien species


A risk assessment of invasive alien species establishes the biology, potential for damage, pathways of introduction, management measures and associated costs. If the assessment leads to a negative result, it is proposed that the species are included in the list of invasive alien species of Union concern. Once the species are included on the list, the import, keeping or release to the environment is prohibited in the Member States. In 2017 twelve new species were included on the EU list. Eight of these animal and plant species which arrived in the EU as a result of human intervention and pose a threat to biodiversity in Europe occur in Austria as well. An overview of the 49 species on the Union list and further information on invasive alien species can be found at


Further information:

Petra Kestler, Press Office, Environment Agency Austria, Phone +43 1 313 04-5432