Beyond protocols: improving the reliability of expert-based risk analysis underpinning invasive species policies

Risk assessment tools for listing invasive alien species need to incorporate all available evidence and expertise. Beyond the wealth of protocols developed to date, we argue that the current way of performing risk analysis has several shortcomings. In particular, lack of data on ecological impacts, transparency and repeatability of assessments as well as the incorporation of uncertainty should all be explicitly considered. We recommend improved quality control of risk assessments through formalized peer review with clear feedback between assessors and reviewers. Alternatively, a consensus building process can be applied to better capture opinions of different experts, thereby maximizing the evidential basis. Elaborating on manageability of invasive species is further needed to fully answer all risk analysis requirements. Tackling the issue of invasive species urges better handling of the acquired information on risk and the exploration of improved methods for decision making on biodiversity management. This is crucial for efficient conservation resource allocation and uptake by stakeholders and the public.