Invasive alien species (IAPs) are a threat to the biodiversity in Europe. Horticulture, agriculture, aquaculture and transport/travel are considered as the main pathways on introducing invasive alien species. Some of the most harmful invasive alien plants, such as Giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam, were introduced in the 19th century as ornamental plants for gardens, from where they spread into the wild. Others were introduced not intentionally, but arrived as contaminant, for example in seed mixes or in bird feed.
To gain knowledge which of the IAPs are related to traffic infrastructure habitats with a high impact on economy, biodiversity and health a catalogue of IAS will be elaborated during the project. The EU legislation No 1143/2014 will be the basis for this list, but also all national lists will be included.
At the current state every country has different guidelines for the management of IAPs. Since 2010 guidelines exist for the management of non-native invasive plant species in Ireland. In in several regions Germany, only native plants may be used in infrastructure projects. In the Austria federal state of Vorarlberg an action plant exist, to prevent the spread of IAPs, but without legal basis. To gain an overview of the different procedures a questionnaire will be send out to road construction and maintenance companies in a range of EU countries to collect best practice approaches in regards to road building and maintenance. This will be done in close collaboration with the construction and maintenance companies from different countries.
The use of chemical herbicides for road management is prohibited in several European countries. Chemical herbicides are not selective and also contribute to destruction of the natural biodiversity. Therefore alternative methods have to be developed. An approach that aims to improve natural biodiversity uses native seed mixtures in combination with beneficial plant growth-promoting bacteria to obtain a fast growing plant population adapted to the location. Another approach that is based on IAPs eradication via height selection was developed by zasso GmbH and uses high frequency high voltage electrical power. The project will evaluate various methods in relation to their application mode, feasibility, and costs during road construction and maintenance.
The project should establish the basis for monitoring and surveillance of IAPs on roads. Through early detection of IAPs, further costs can be minimized and later damage effectively prevented. In interviews with operating personal the use of early detection methods with mobile phone applications will be discussed and input for it collected.
The outcome of the project is to develop new, cost effective and efficient methods and procedures to control the spread of invasive and potentially harmful species during road construction and road maintenance. These methods will be quality checked during trial operations and undergo cost/benefit analyses for the feasibility. These new findings shall be the baseline for new legislations for road construction and maintenance in Europe.