Dealing with invasive alien species in the French overseas territories: results and benefits of a 7-year Initiative
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- Soubeyran, Y., Meyer, JY., Lebouvier, M. et al. Biol Invasions (2015) 17: 545. doi:10.1007/s10530-014-0766-2
Invasive alien species (IAS) are one of the most serious threats to the rich and unique biodiversity of the 13 French overseas territories (FOTs) scattered across three oceans and two continents. To address this critical issue, a dedicated Initiative has been conducted since 2005, with the support of a large panel of national and local experts and stakeholders. This paper summarizes the main results and benefits of this project after 7 years. As a first phase, an unprecedented overview of IAS and their impacts in all the FOTs was achieved. A total of 630 alien taxa were recorded, among which 258 plants, 52 terrestrial vertebrates and 32 invertebrates were identified as a threat, or a potential threat, to native species and/or natural habitats. Gaps in the knowledge about invasive species were also highlighted and a comprehensive set of recommendations was developed. Using a range of targeted collaborative actions and promoting the exchange of information and regional cooperation, the Initiative raised awareness of invasive species issues, improved access to information and strengthened local and regional capacities. In this paper, we report on the outcomes of the Initiative and what remains to be done with regards to the prevention of new introductions, early detection, rapid response and public awareness, as well as future challenges.