Ministry: Latvia has an invasive species combat plan

A plan to combat invasive species in Latvia has been submitted to the European Commission (EC). Consequently Latvia will avoid sanctions which could have been imposed if such a plan were not in place, says Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM). Meanwhile, this summer the number of population reports on observations of invasive species in the nature of Latvia has increased six times, Latvian Radio reported September 25.

Invasive species are currently widespread in Latvia because the problem has not been addressed for a long time. The EC, which brought Latvia before the Court of Justice of the EU this year for not preventing the introduction of species harmful to Europe's nature, also pointed out this failure. The EC has also taken action against Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Ireland, and Portugal.

Daiga Vilkaste, Director of the VARAM Nature Protection Department, pointed out that a plan to combat invasive species has been prepared in spring and has also been submitted to the EC. Consequently, the case against Latvia will be dropped and punishment will not follow. Earlier, Vilkaste said the potential fine could have been 308 thousand euros.

“According to our latest information, the EC will not move the case against Latvia further. The case will be dropped in court and there is no threat of a fine to us because we met their claim. The plan foresees specific things that institutions, both VARAM and the Ministry of Agriculture (ZM) subordinate institutions, need to do, but of course, the implementation of the plan also depends on what funding will be,” Vilkaste said.

This summer, the number of reports received from residents on invasive species observed in nature has increased six times in the campaign “Catching outsiders in the nature of Latvia!” (Ķeram svešos Latvjas dabā!). Last year, an average of 79 reports were received per month, while this summer there were 463 reports per month. The most reported are Canada goldenrod, ash-leaf maple, Sosnowski's hogweed, Spanish slug, American mink, and raccoon dog.

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