Belgium: national initiatives on Code of conduct
The answers provided by Belgium to the questionnaire on the implementation of the Council of Europe/EPPO Code of conduct on horticulture and invasive alien plants in European and Mediterranean countries are summarized below. The general conclusions of the questionnaire are presented in EPPO RS 2011/144.
A Belgian Code of conduct is currently being elaborated within the framework of the Life+ AlterIAS project and it will become publicly available in the next few weeks.
Stage and scale of implementation: A consultation of the horticultural sector is ongoing in order to develop the Belgian Code of conduct. Round table discussions were held between November 2010 and May 2011 and the Code is reaching completion It will be implemented at a national scale, involving the major federations of ornamental plant producers and other stakeholders such as end-users in Belgium.
Partners associated: The associated partners and their roles are as follows:
- the Life+ AlterIAS team (University of Liège Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, Proefcentrum voor Sierteelt, Centre Technique Horticole de Gembloux, Federal Public Service): coordination of the beneficiaries of the project, responsible for the preparation (consultation), implementation and promotion of the Code of conduct;
- Belgian Forum on Invasive Species: production of the listing system for invasive ornamental plants ;
- DG Environment of the European Commission: co-funding of the project (Life+ programme);
- Federal and regional administrations in Belgium: co-funding of the project;
- Professional horticultural sector in Belgium: communication and promotion of the Code of conduct to the nursery industry.
Target of the Belgian Code of conduct: The target audience includes: plant producers/sellers (terrestrial and aquatic plants), managers of public spaces, private managers in the sector (landscape architects, garden contractors), botanical gardens and garden amateurs. Plant export is not covered by this Code of conduct.
Financing of the initiative: The AlterIAS project started in January 2010 and will last 4 years (2010-2013). It is co-financed by the LIFE+ program of the EU Commission and by all regional and federal administrations responsible for the environment in Belgium. The project has a total budget of 1 002 964 euros. The planned budget for preparing, implementing and promoting the Belgian Code of conduct is approximately 315 600 euros.
Use of legislation: Several legal instruments are being developed in parallel to the implementation of the Belgian Code of conduct:
- A federal Royal Decree to prohibit the import of invasive alien plants that are not yet established or not widely distributed in the country should be enforced. It includes the following species: Carpobrotus acinaciformis and C. edulis (Aizoaceae, EPPO List of Invasive Alien Plants), Crassula helmsii (Crassulaceae, EPPO A2 List), Egeria densa (Hydrocharitaceae, EPPO List of IAP), Lagarosiphon major (Hydrocharitaceae, EPPO List of IAP), Ludwigia grandiflora and Ludwigia peploides (Onagraceae, EPPO List of IAP), Myriophyllum aquaticum (Haloragaceae, EPPO List of IAP) and Myriophyllum heterophyllum (Haloragaceae, EPPO Alert List).
- Regional legislation prohibiting the plantation and trade of specific species or imposing control measures against them is under preparation.
Criteria to establish lists of invasive alien plants: The list of invasive alien plants in Belgium is based on assessments performed by experts of the Belgian Forum on Invasive Species using a quick assessment protocol (see the ISEIA protocol and list system).
As a ban on the production and planting of the full list of invasive alien species in Belgium would not be immediately accepted by the horticultural sector, it has been decided to develop a Code of conduct with three levels of engagement. The first level is a commitment to stop selling or planting a shorter list of plant species (including cultivars and varieties). This list includes 28 terrestrial and aquatic plants (which represent around 70% of the Belgian black list species and 30% of the watch list species). This consensus list has been approved unanimously by all horticulture professionals and federations consulted while preparing the Code. The second level of engagement refers to an extended list that includes all the black-listed species in addition to the consensus list species. The third level includes the complete list with the 57 invasive alien plants in Belgium. The willingness of the sector representatives to include species in the consensus list is directly linked to the economic value of the species: no agreement could be found to include plant species with a high economic importance in this list. In addition, species that only invade very specific habitats were hardly perceived as detrimental by horticulturists because of their limited distribution.
Main requirements of the Code:
- know the list of invasive alien plants;
- disseminate information about invasive alien plants to customers or citizens;
- stop selling/planting invasive alien plants (three options, as described above);
- communicate and promote the use of non-invasive alternative plants;
- participate in early detection (of new potential invasive alien plants);
- display a logo (mentioning the involvement in the Code of conduct).
All those requirements were approved by the horticultural sector during the consultation phase.
Use of incentives or sanctions: A positive public image of stakeholders endorsing the Belgian Code of conduct is developed through communication campaigns. The AlterIAS project will promote efforts of the horticultural sector for protecting biodiversity.
Revision or update of the Code of conduct: The Belgian Code of conduct will be reviewed on a three yearly basis by an ad hoc committee involving representatives of horticulture professionals, scientists and policy makers.
Prevention of the spread of Invasive alien plants: Other preventive actions are and will be developed in the future under the responsibility of regional authorities.
Communication activities: Various communication tools are being developed to promote the Code through the Life+ AlterIAS project: a website, a DVD, TV and radio reports, newsletters, articles in horticultural magazines, etc.
Monitoring of the implementation of the Code of conduct: The key criterion to measure the effectiveness of the Belgian Code of conduct is the limitation in the use of invasive ornamental plants. Horticulture professionals and gardeners involved in the Code of conduct should be registered in the AlterIAS website and located on a google map system.
The impacts of the Life+ AlterIAS project will be monitored with a set of indicators, including measurable change of attitude of the target audience through public surveys (e.g. number of persons adopting the Code of conduct, reduction rate in the number of invasive plants in horticultural catalogues, etc.). It is nevertheless difficult to monitor the occurrence and spread of all species that are subject to the Code of conduct. This was not part of the existing project and may be done on a longer term. There are specific monitoring activities of plant occurrence in the wild linked to control measures (e.g. for Heracleum mantegazzianum or Hydrocotyle ranunculoides), but not all the species covered by the Code of conduct are systematically surveyed.
The Life + AlterIAS project: http://www.alterias.be
The Belgian Forum on Invasive Species (including information on the ISEIA protocol and list system): http://ias.biodiversity.be
Contacts: Van Herzele Lieven, Federal Public Service of Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire Collin, DG Environment, E-mail: email@example.com
Etienne Branquart, Cellule espèces invasives, Service Public de Wallonie, E-mail;: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mathieu Halford, Projet Life AlterIAS, E-mail: email@example.com
Sonia Vanderhoeven, Belgian Biodiversity Platform, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org