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Introduced species

Introduced species

Introduced species are considered those species living outside their native distributional range, in a place they would not be if not for deliberate or inadvertent human intervention.

Invasive introduced species are introduced species, which may potentially endanger the ecosystem, habitats or other species, causing economic or environmental damage. The harmfulness of invasive species lies in the following:
• they enter the local food chain;
• they compete with other organisms, occupying the same niches;
• they may be toxic to native species, including humans;
• they are carriers of pathogens and parasites;
• they cross-breed with closely related species;
• they genetically undermine the adaptation of native populations;

The introduction of a species to an area outside its natural range is governed by the so-called 10% rule: 10% of introduced species acclimatize, i.e, remain in the new place to grow, and are able to go through all the stages of their life cycle; of these, 10% become invasive, i.e., they begin to spread.

As of May 2011, 947 introduced species have been registered in Estonia, 739 of them plants. The list can be found here (197 KB, XLS) (Excel table).

More can be read about introduced species in the “Handbook of Introduced Land Species” (pdf) (2.58 MB, PDF), published by the Ministry of the Environment in 2008, where information can be found about the nature of introduced species, their spread, how to handle them, and more dangerous and well-known introduced species in Estonia.

Data and information related to European introduced species can be found on the NOBANIS homepage: www.nobanis.org.

Letting live specimens of introduced species loose in nature and the seeding and planting of introduced plant species in nature are prohibited, with the exception of the seeding and planting of permitted introduced tree species pursuant to the Forest Act.

By regulation of the Minister of the Environment, a list has been provided of those species whose live specimens may not be brought to Estonia or be involved in business transactions. Their raising in artificial conditions (on farms) and involvement in business transactions are permitted only in scientifically justified cases by permission of the Environmental Board.

Specimens of introduced species kept in artificial conditions (on farms) may be relocated to other artificial conditions (farms) only by permission of the Environmental Board, except in the case of pets.

Raccoon dogs and mink may be kept in artificial conditions only on the Estonian mainland on farms possessing a permit issued by the Environmental Board. Requirements and rules for the issuing of a permits have been prescribed by regulation of the Minister of the Environment. Mink and raccoon dog specimens may be brought to Estonia only on the basis of an Environmental Board permit with the goal of introducing new blood to farms possessing a permit to keep raccoon dogs or mink. In Estonia, 2 permits have been issued to keep minks in artificial conditions (on farms):
• OÜ Rooküla Esimene in the Village of Härgla, in the Rural Municipality of Juuru, in Raplamaa County;
• Malle Lomp, in the Village of Ageri, in the Rural Municipality of Albu, in Järvamaa County.

If the results of a scientific inventory of a species indicate that growth in the size of the population of the species is having a negative impact on the environment or is posing a danger to human health or property, a management plan is drawn up for the species, which contains:
• data related to the biology, population size, and range of the species;
• the goals of management;
• the prioritizing of necessary management measures and a timetable for carrying them out;
• a budget for organising management.

In Estonia a management plan for invasive species of hogweed has been drawn up and approved by the Ministry of the Environment. In 2011 it was also planned to order a management plan for impatiens glandulifera. An information booklet on the Portuguese slug (2.58 MB, PDF)is available.

The Environmental Board keeps records of the places where introduced species have been discovered.

Problematic species
Problematic species are native Estonian species whose large numbers have increased for different reasons and who are causing harm to other native species, human health, or property. It might be due to human intervention and activities or natural changes and population dynamics.

To regulate the population of problematic species, a management plan has been drawn up, which contains:
• data related to the biology, population size, and range of the species;
• the goals of management;
• the prioritizing of necessary management measures and a timetable for carrying them out;
• a budget for organising management.

The great cormorant has been named a problematic species in Estonia. Its management can be read about here

Pacifastacus leniusculus has been named an introduced species in Estonia.Photo: Merike Linnamägi
Pacifastacus leniusculus has been named an introduced species in Estonia. Photo: Merike Linnamägi


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