Considerations for developing and implementing a safe list for alien taxa

Sabrina Kumschick, Laura Fernandez Winzer, Emily J McCulloch-Jones, Duran Chetty, Jana Fried, Tanushri Govender, Luke J Potgieter, Mokgatla C Rapetsoa, David M Richardson, Julia van Velden, Dewidine Van der Colff, Siyasanga Miza, John R U Wilson

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Many species have been intentionally introduced to new regions for their benefits. Some of these alien species cause damage, others do not (or at least have not yet). There are several approaches to address this problem: prohibit taxa that will cause damage, try to limit damages while preserving benefits, or promote taxa that are safe. In the present article, we unpack the safe list approach, which we define as “a list of taxa alien to the region of interest that are considered of sufficiently low risk of invasion and impact that the taxa can be widely used without concerns of negative impacts.” We discuss the potential use of safe lists in the management of biological invasions; disentangle aspects related to the purpose, development, implementation, and impact of safe lists; and provide guidance for those considering to develop and implement such lists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-108
Number of pages12
Issue number2
Early online date2 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Institute of Biological Sciences. This is an Open Access article distributed
under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution,and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited


SK, DMR, JRUW, JVV, MCR, LFW, TG, EMJ, and LJP acknowledge support from the Department of Science and Innovation National Research Foundation's Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology at Stellenbosch University. SK, SM, MCR, LFW, EMJ, DC, and JRUW acknowledge support from the South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), noting that this publication does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the DFFE or its employees. SK and JRUW acknowledge funding from the B3 project. B3 (Biodiversity Building Blocks for Policy) receives funding from the European Union's Horizon Europe Research and Innovation Programme (through grant no. 101059592). The views and opinions expressed in the present article are, however, those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the EU nor the EC can be held responsible for them. DMR acknowledges support from Mobility 2020 project no. CZ.02.2.69/0.0/0.0/18_053/0017850 (from the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports of the Czech Republic) and long-term research development project no. RVO 67985939 (from the Czech Academy of Sciences). JVV acknowledges support from the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation of South Africa (through grant no. 98766).


  • biological invasions
  • list approaches
  • regulation
  • stakeholders
  • trade

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