We are pleased to share that this year we have successfully completed multi-year monitoring of foreign invasive species on land and sea within the construction project “Bridge Land-Pelješac with Access Roads”. The goal of the project was to determine the presence of foreign invasive species before the start of the project, and then during multi-year construction and usage. The most important part of this project was defining effective measures to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species.
Foreign invasive species are species that do not naturally inhabit a certain area, but when they reach it, they have a negative impact on native species and ecosystems, human health, and cause economic damage to agriculture and infrastructure. The main characteristic of invasive species is that they spread very quickly to new areas, are more competitive than native species and therefore very quickly create dense and stable populations.
The greatest risk of the introduction of invasive species exists in natural habitats which are
disturbed (e.g. due to the removal of vegetation, hydrotechnical interventions, on agricultural land). Therefore, an integral part of all our studies and reports is the assessment of the possible impact of the introduction and spread of invasive species and definition of mitigation measures that eliminate or mitigate this impact.
Particularly important in our work is the assessment of the negative impact of invasive species in areas of the ecological network, protected areas and areas with preserved nature, since invasive species are among the five main causes of biodiversity loss in the world. Invasive species can occur in the sea (e.g. Caulerpa, peacock bass), inland waters (e.g. signal crayfish, egeria densa) and on land (e.g. Ailanthus altissima, common raccoon dog).
Therefore, one of the main goals of the EU Biodiversity strategy for 2030 is to reduce the number of red list species threatened by invasive species by 50%. The European Union has also singled out 88 invasive species that cause for concern, of which 28 have already been recorded in the territory of Croatia. In Croatia, the Act on Prevention of the Introduction and Spread of Foreign and Invasive Alien Species and Their Management is in force (Official Gazette, No. 15/2018, 14/2019).
The projects related to foreign invasive species that we have worked on so far include almost all environmental impact studies (including preliminary environmental impact studies) and Appropriate Assessments, as well as a large number of projects in Croatia and abroad where we monitored the spread and introduction of invasive species, proposed management and action plans for the fight against invasive species and defined mitigation measures and monitoring plans.