Assessing the risk of potentially invasive plant species in central Europe
A risk assessment system was developed to assess the invasion potential of new environmental weeds in central Europe. A pre-evaluation step excludes species that are officially controlled, widespread, or intended for use in protected cultures only. Species eligible for risk assessment are classified into three categories (high risk, further observation required, low risk) by rating them according to various biogeographical and ecological aspects. The rating system was validated by testing 47 well-known invasive plant species of temperate Europe and 193 exotic plants which have failed to establish themselves in Switzerland. The overall accuracy was 65%. Accuracy of correctly predicting invasive species was 77%, while accuracy of correctly predicting non-invasive species was 62%. The proposed risk assessment protocol should be understood as a first attempt for a European country and needs modifications. These can only be achieved by applying the system in practice.