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Alien organisms in the cultural landscape

Target

1.1 Norwegian ecosystems will achieve good status and deliver ecosystem services.

Indicator

Number of invasive alien organisms in the following major ecosystems: marine and coastal waters, rivers and lakes, wetlands, forest, mountains and cultural landscapes
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Are we moving in the right direction? Published by the Norwegian Environment Agency

Cultural landscapes include areas around gardens and parks, and also road verges. It is estimated that 40 per cent of the vascular plants that spread to the Norwegian environment are escaped garden plants. They can have negative impacts in the semi-natural vegetation types found in cultural landscapes, where many native species cannot compete with them.

Protected areas have priority

Most action to deal with alien organisms focuses on areas of cultural landscape that are protected under the Nature Diversity Act. The Norwegian Nature Inspectorate organises annual campaigns to deal with alien species, including Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera), Japanese rose (Rosa rugosa) and other escaped garden plants. An action plan for combating the spread of Japanese rose was published in 2013.  

In addition, the Norwegian Environment Agency funds a range of activities every year to deal with alien organisms outside protected areas. These are often organised by the county governors, and include containment and control measures and training, information and surveys. Several of the county governors’ offices have now published brochures on the risks associated with the spread of garden escapes. The county governors of Oslo and Akershus, Østfold, Rogaland, Aust-Agder and Sogn og Fjordane have drawn up alien species action plans, and several other counties are in the process of preparing plans.

The Norwegian Biodiversity Information Centre was asked to develop a system for early detection and warning of the spread of alien organisms. It is now possible for anyone to register an email address and receive regular information about new records of the species they are interested in from the Biodiversity Information Centre’s portals Artsobservasjoner (where scientists and others can report species observations) and Artskart (the Species Map Service), either for the whole country or for selected areas.

The Biodiversity Information Centre is also encouraging members of voluntary organisations and others who are interested to register observations of alien organisms, so that more information is made available.

However, more still needs to be done to limit the spread of alien vascular plants to the cultural landscape, and the provisions of the current legislation are not sufficient to restrict their spread.