A framework to support alien species regulation: the Risk Analysis for Alien Taxa (RAAT)
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Alien species are introduced to new regions in many different ways and for different purposes. A number of frameworks have been developed to group such pathways of introduction into discrete categories in order to improve our understanding of biological invasions, provide information for interventions that aim to prevent introductions, enable reporting to national and international organisations and facilitate the prediction of threats. The introduction pathway classification framework proposed by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) as a global standard is comprised of six main categories and 44 sub-categories. However, issues have arisen with its implementation. In this position paper, we outline five desirable properties of an introduction pathway classification framework – it should be compatible (i.e. the level of detail of the categories is similar to that of the available data), actionable (i.e. categories link to specific interventions), general (i.e. categories are applicable across the contexts that are of interest (e.g. taxa, habitats and regions)), equivalent (i.e. categories are equivalent in their level of detail) and distinct (i.e. categories are discrete and easily distinguished) – termed the CAGED properties. The six main categories of the CBD framework have all of the CAGED properties, but the detailed sub-categories have few. Therefore, while the framework has been proposed by the CBD as a global standard and efforts have been made to put it into practice, we argue that there is room for improvement. We conclude by presenting scenarios for how the issues identified could be addressed, noting that a hybrid model might be most appropriate.