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LIFE RIPARIAS Newsletter 02

With the LIFE RIPARIAS project, Belgian authorities pool their resources together to optimise the management of invasive alien species in river areas and ponds across regional borders.

How to optimise invasive species management: let's talk about it at the river basin scale ! 

Three invasive alien species (IAS) management strategies will be developed at the scale of the Dyle, Senne and Marcq river basins in the framework of the project by the end of June 2023

The content of the strategies will be discussed in close cooperation with stakeholders active at the river basin level, across regional borders. The discussions will be enhanced by a decision support tool, which is currently being developed within the project.

Introductory workshops per river basin will be organised on the 9th (Senne), 12th (Dyle) and 16th (Marcq) of September 2022 at Brussels Environment. A second series of workshops will be held on the 1st (Senne), 7th (Marcq) and 12th (Dyle) of December 2022 to discuss priority species and areas for actions. Those events target field managers active in these river basins and with excellent knowledge of the area. 

The strategies will develop in detail how to manage these species over the period 2023-2031, taking best practices into account. They will also cover the follow-up of the actions carried out in the field in order to be able to evaluate their effectiveness after implementation.

You are a field manager active in the Dyle, Senne and Marcq river basins? Register to our workshops ! 

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Management of the floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides) © A.Latli
Invasive alien species nearby your home? Stay informed ! 
The project aims to improve the dissemination of observation data of invasive alien species. Indeed, the sooner an observation reaches the field managers, the sooner it is possible to intervene. This has a significant advantage: a rapid response leads to a reduction in management costs.
Hence, the alert system “Alert.riparias” was created to provide rapid access to observations. It is an open source system which gathers observations from different projects and databases, including citizen science platforms (ex:, iNaturalist...). This allows users to receive the latest notifications on a daily basis. 
You are involved in environmental management?  Sign up now!
LIFE RIPARIAS alert system
IAS occurrence in Belgium ("Alert.riparias")

Information sessions dedicated to the identification of some aquatic invasive alien species

LIFE RIPARIAS ran information sessions in June 2022. These were organised by various project partners, such as Contrats de Rivière Senne, the University of Liège and Brussels Environment. Numerous field actors, such as field managers and naturalists were trained during those events.
Session ran on the 15th of June 2022 © M.Patinet
Session ran on the 15th of June 2022 © M.Patinet
These first information sessions were mainly dedicated to the recognition of aquatic and riparian invasive alien plants species (IAS). They also served to inform participants about the importance of online observation platforms. A presentation of the different identification criteria for aquatic species were given. This was followed by a practical exercise during which these criteria were used to identify the plant samples previously collected in the field. In some regions, field visits were also organised for practical experiences. Identification aid tools, such as ID sheets and videos, were made available to facilitate the recognition of IAS once in the field.
Get access to identification sheets
Video: how to identify aquatic invasive alien plant species © LIFE RIPARIAS & National Scientific Secretariat
Get access to videos
These sessions were excellent opportunities to improve the dissemination of observation data on alien species and to promote early management of these species on the Belgian territory.
New training sessions are planned for the year 2023.  A best practice management guide of IAS will be made available during these sessions.
Information session of the 15th of June 2022 © M.Patinet 
If you encounter an invasive alien species in a pond, along a river or elsewhere in nature, do not hesitate to share your observation on platforms such as, iNaturalist, GBIF. New population records will allow us to better map their distribution, to prevent or slow down their spread, and to take early and effective actions.
cataloging species of the old Charleroi-Brussels
The old Charleroi-Brussels canal is a jewel of Walloon heritage, an example of the conversion of an economic transport tool into an environment with multiple facets: history, nature, relaxation, leisure, and culture. The opportunity that the old canal represents for nature has been reinforced by the protection of an exceptional site: the Ronquières natural reserve.

This site is also important for the LIFE RIPARIAS project as it is located in the upstream part of the Senne basin with many aquatic and riparian invasive alien species that have been there for a long time. Early detection and management actions of these species will take place in the area of this site during the project.
Old Charleroi-Brussels canal. © M.Patinet
On the 22nd of May 2022, LIFE RIPARIAS organised a bioblitz to record the presence of invasive alien species based on the observations made by citizens during the event.

A total of 321 speciesboth native and non-native, were recorded during the event.  Among these 321 species, 10 invasive alien species were encoded, of which 6 are species of Union concern. These observations underline the importance of citizen science for IAS detection.

Photo of the event. © M.Patinet

The LIFE RIPARIAS project presented at international level

LIFE RIPARIAS has participated in a number of events, including the International Conference on Aquatic Invasive Species (ICAIS), the International Conference on Ecology and Vegetal Community (EcoVeg15), the Empowering Biodiversity Research Conference (EBR II) as well as the 23rth symposium of the International association of Astacology (IAA23)
These conferences were excellent opportunities to share experiences at an international level on the management of biological invasions. It also gave the opportunity to the team to present and promote the project.

Photo of the ICAIS conference. © M.Patinet
Photo of the ICAIS conference. © M.Patinet
Further participations in events and conferences are planned for 2022, including NEOBIOTA, the International Conference on Biological Invasions in September 2022. The project also plans a session at the TDWG Conference on how to exchange management data on invasive alien species.
Photo ICAIS conference © LIFE RIPARIAS

LIFE RIPARIAS and LIFE MICA: LIFE projects join forces

On the 25th of March 2022, LIFE RIPARIAS and LIFE MICA organised a one-day webinar. The main objective is the development of standardised data on invasive alien species (IAS) management actions. Indeed, such a system is currently lacking at all levels (national, European, and worldwide), as actors tend to use their own system with their own data model and standard. Sharing data and promoting interoperability between institutions is essential for an optimised management of IAS. The creation of a standard, both flexible and comprehensive to address aspects of IAS management, is the ambitious goal that LIFE MICA and LIFE RIPARIAS are trying to achieve together.
During the event, the two LIFE projects shared best practices and ideas on the monitoring and management of invasive alien species of Union concern. Together, they identified key criteria to answer important questions such as:
  • What should be reported when conducting a management action on an IAS?
  • What is essential/optional to share after a management action?
  • How should it be reported?
A second seminar between the two LIFE projects took place on the 13th of July 2022 to improve the development of standardised data for IAS field management. The final objective is to promote this standard internationally.
The project also plans a session at the TDWG conference on how to exchange wildlife and invasive alien species management data. A draft data model will be presented during the event.
Photo of the 2nd seminar © Tim Adriaens

An alert list for the LIFE RIPARIAS project

An alert list of aquatic and riparian plants and crayfish was drawn up in December 2021 for the LIFE RIPARIAS project pilot area. It includes exotic species that are not yet present in a certain area, or with a very limited distribution, and that pose a threat to biodiversity. The list was drawn up based on a screening of catalogues of species available on the Belgian market such as garden centres and aquarium shops. The Belgian Harmonia + protocol was used to identify which of the 238 exotic species listed are the most likely to become established in the project area and cause significant environmental damage.

The resulting list includes 9 aquatic and riparian plant species and 4 species of crayfish originating from different regions of the world.  Identification sheets have been produced for each species. These 13 species are now subject to enhanced surveillance by the project partners, in addition to the species included in  the list of species of Union concern. They may be subject to destruction actions under the project if detected in nature reserves or other sites of high biodiversity value. However, unlike the EU-listed species, no action is required by law against them in garden ponds or in sites located away from natural environments. It is, however, encouraged to favour the introduction of indigenous species in ponds. 
Cape-pondweed (Aponogeton distachyos) 1 of the 9 aquatic plant species of the alert list. © Etienne Branquart.
Get access to the alert list report
LIFE RIPARIAS project partners
This project has received funding from the LIFE Programme of the European Union.
Copyright © 2022  LIFE RIPARIAS, All rights reserved.

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