Biological invasions in World Heritage Sites: current status and a proposed monitoring and reporting framework

Ross T. Shackleton*, Bastian Bertzky, Louisa E. Wood, Nancy Bunbury, Heinke Jäger, Remco van Merm, Christian Sevilla, Kevin Smith, John R.U. Wilson, Arne B.R. Witt, David M. Richardson

*Corresponding author for this work

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    UNESCO World Heritage Sites (WHS) are areas of outstanding universal value and conservation importance. They are, however, threatened by a variety of global change drivers, including biological invasions. We assessed the current status of biological invasions and their management in 241 natural and mixed WHS globally by reviewing documents collated by UNESCO and IUCN. We found that reports on the status of biological invasions in WHS were often irregular or inconsistent. Therefore, while some reports were very informative, they were hard to compare because no systematic method of reporting was followed. Our review revealed that almost 300 different invasive alien species (IAS) were considered as a threat to just over half of all WHS. Information on IAS management undertaken in WHS was available for fewer than half of the sites that listed IAS as a threat. There is clearly a need for an improved monitoring and reporting system for biological invasions in WHS and likely the same for other protected areas globally. To address this issue, we developed a new framework to guide monitoring and reporting of IAS in protected areas building on globally accepted standards for IAS assessments, and tested it on seven WHS. The framework requires the collation of information and reporting on pathways, alien species presence, impacts, and management, the estimation of future threats and management needs, assessments of knowledge and gaps, and, using all of this information allows for an overall threat score to be assigned to the protected area. This new framework should help to improve monitoring of IAS in protected areas moving forward.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3327-3347
    Number of pages21
    JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
    Issue number11-12
    Early online date30 Aug 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


    • Biodiversity
    • Conservation
    • Global environmental change
    • Invasive alien species
    • IUCN
    • Management
    • Protected areas
    • UNESCO


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