Development of alien and invasive taxa lists for regulation of biological invasions in South Africa
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Background: Lists are fundamental for guiding policy and management of biological invasions. The process of developing regulatory lists of alien and invasive taxa should be based on scientific evidence through an objective, transparent and consistent process. Objectives: In this study, we review the development of the lists for the alien and invasive species regulations in terms of section 97(1) of the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 (NEM:BA) (Act No. 10 of 2004). Method: Lists published in the National Government Gazette were compared and assessed for changes in the taxa listed and their status between 2009 and 2016. Minutes from expert workshops convened to inform the listing were reviewed. Relevant information such as the criteria for listing taxa was extracted from minutes of the workshops. Results: Three draft versions were produced and published in the Government Gazette for public comment before the final list was published in August 2014 and promulgated in October 2014. The list is to be reviewed regularly and additional species can be added, and the status of species can be changed as additional evidence of threat levels is available - and was even amended in May 2015. The various stakeholders involved in the listing process were academics, conservation experts, managers and the general public through an inclusive process which included participation workshops or through public comment. A scoring tool based on the likelihood of invasion versus the impact of invasion was recommended for evaluating the risk of a species, but was rarely used. A number of issues relating to conflicts and approaches for listing were faced during development of lists. Conclusion: We conclude with some recommendations for future refinements in the listing process, including improving transparency and participation as well as developing standardised approaches for listing.