Invasive Species Management PrioritiesInvasive species constitute one of the gravest threats to Washington’s plants, animals, and businesses dependent on the rich biodiversity here. Two critical parts to managing invasions are:
- Identifying the species that threaten resources
- Prioritizing species for management action
All taxonomic groups are represented in the council’s assessment process, not just plants or marine species as seen in other assessments. Based on best-professional judgment and science, this is a management tool to categorize invasive species of greatest threat to Washington and to guide council action.
The ScoresThe assessment provides two scores for each species:
- An impact score that relates to a species’ environmental, economic, and human health threat
- A prevention score that relates to an agency’s ability to take preventative or early action for that species
the prevention score, the greater the opportunity for an agency to prevent establishment of the species or the greater the agency’s ability to respond quickly to new infestations.
Both of these scores are plotted on a management
grid to inform the council on future actions to take and to track the effectiveness of those actions. The actual scores are less important than the relative difference among species and the change in score over time.
The scores also will serve as a baseline against which to measure how effective the actions of the council and other agencies are in reducing a species’ impact and improving the ability of state agencies to prevent new species from establishing, and to conduct a rapid response. The movement of a species on the graph will be important to enable the council to be adaptive in implementing its actions.
Creating the ListA workgroup of invasive species professionals, each with expertise in a different taxonomic group (e.g., terrestrial plants, insects, aquatic animals), came together and identified species that pose the greatest threat to Washington’s environment, economy, and human health. While most of the species on the list already live in Washington, some are in the western United States as well as outside the western United States but in areas with similar climate conditions.
This is a dynamic list, which will be revisited and re-evaluated annually. At that time, new species posing serious risk to Washington will be added to the list and new information will be incorporated into species assessments.
How the List will be Used The grid will guide council action, such as looking at the current ability to prevent new infestations, making policy recommendations, and identifying where more management or education is needed. It is intended also to:
- Provide a uniform methodology for categorizing invasive species.
- Provide a clear explanation of the process used to evaluate and categorize species.
- Provide flexibility so the criteria can be adapted to the needs of different regions or organizations.
- Identify where more information may be needed.
- Educate about the impacts of invasive species and the ability to prevent them.
- Represent a scientifically-based risk assessment (this is an assessment based on best professional judgment).
- Produce a list that itself has regulatory force, though regulatory agencies may use the information to modify existing lists.
- Provide lists for any region because the invasiveness of species will differ from one region to another depending on geography, climate, ecosystems present, and other factors.
How to Read the Grid
The grid is divided into four sections based on high and low impact scores and high and low prevention scores. Management actions presented in the quadrants then pertain to the group of species falling there.
Download a printable version of this management tool.