Biological invasions: legal framework, management and research
Biological invasions, together with the destruction and fragmentation of habitats, currently represent one of the main factors determining the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The impact of invasive species does not stop there; their introduction directly affects human well-being, as they cause serious damage to the economy, especially to agricultural, livestock and forestry production, and even to public health. Considering the importance of biological invasions (biotic exchanges) as a driver of global change, it is good news that last November 11, the government approved the Spanish Catalog of Invasive Species. Together with the regulations concerning climate change, this shows that global change is no longer just a matter for scientists, but is already present in society through legislation.
The new legislation aims to regulate the procedure and criteria for the inclusion of invasive species in the list and catalog, as well as to establish the necessary action measures to prevent their introduction into the Spanish natural environment and for their control and possible eradication. In addition, it should raise social awareness of the problem of biological invasions and serve as a guide for the implementation of good conservation practices. Among them, priority should be given to eradication in natural areas and areas of special conservation.
In relation to the challenge of managing ecosystems to minimize the impact of biological invasions, in the GLOCHARID project we set out to find answers to the following questions: What is the invasive potential of the exotic species present in the arid ecosystems of Andalusia, what activities or components of global change facilitate plant invasions in these ecosystems, what are the habitats most vulnerable to invasion, and which are the most vulnerable to invasion? Finding the answers to these questions is allowing us to know the current situation of invasions in the arid zones of Andalusia, to detect the main activities that facilitate invasions in the study area, and to propose monitoring indicators for invasive species.