AlterIAS logo
PDF Print

Project description

Information - Education - Awareness

AlterIAS (ALTERnatives to Invasive Alien Species) is a communication project which aims at raising awareness of the horticultural sector on the invasive plants issue. The final goal is to reduce voluntary introductions of invasive plants in nurseries, green areas, gardens, private ponds or along roadways, railways and waterways, starting points of many invasions in nature. It mainly focuses on terrestrial and aquatic invasive plants considered as detrimental to the environment, classified within the Harmonia information system. It is a nature conservation project focused on inducing a change of attitude from horticulture professionals and gardeners concerning the use of invasive plants.


Why the horticultural sector ?

Ornamental horticulture is now widely acknowledged as one the main pathway of plant invasions worldwide. Most invasive plant species are ornamentals planted and cultivated for horticultural use (see invasive plants and horticulture). Once planted, they may escape out of gardens or cultivations, colonize natural habitats and spread over landscapes. Reducing voluntary introductions of those species in gardens, private ponds, green areas is of crucial interest for preventing plant invasions in nature.


Why a communication project ?

Invasive plants remains little known outside the scientific audience. They are still used as ornamentals despite the environmental damages they may cause.  This is due to the lack of information towards ornamental plant users, which do not know ecological or economic impacts related to the use of invasive species. It is therefore necessary to inform and communicate with horticulture professionals and gardeners in order to prevent plant invasions. Varied communication tools shall be delivered in order to reach the public target: website, brochures, folders, posters, information sessions, production of a DVD, articles in journals and horticultural magasines, participation in horticultural events, radio and TV reportages, etc.


Which target audience ?

The project aims at raising awareness amongst the whole ornamental horticulture supply chain in Belgium, from growers to gardeners. This includes:

  • horticulture profressionals : nursery men (producers, sellers, wholesalers), garden center managers, botanical or arboreta managers, garden contractors, public green managers;
  • garden amateurs (gereral public);
  • horticutural teachers and students.


Which objectives ?

The overall objective is reducing voluntary introductions of invasive plants in garden, parks, ponds and along roads, railways and waterways network. The AlterIAS project has three specific objectives :

  • Objective 1: Make aware ornamental plant users on the invasive plant issue by delivering relevant informations through varied communication channels ;
  • Objective 2: Collaborate with the horticultural sector to identify alternatives and best practices in prevention ;
  • Objective 3: Guide these actors to implement those measures in a self-regulation approach (codes of conduct).

In order to achieve these objectives, the  project is organized in three campaigns :

    • Campaign 1: general information campaign on invasive plants ;
    • Campaign 2: Promotion of codes of conduct on invasive plants ;
    • Campaign 3: Awareness in horticultural schools.

See the project descriptive factsheet


AlterIAS, a première in Belgium

  • AlterIAS is the first “Information & Communication” LIFE project in Belgium;
  • AlterIAS is the first LIFE project specifically dedicated to invasive plants and prevention in horticulture;
  • AlterIAS promote the first Belgian Code of conduct on invasive plants.


AlterIAS [2010 – 2013] is coordinated by the Biodiversity & Landscape Unit from the University of Liège Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech (ULg GxABT), in collaboration with the Centre Technique Horticole (CTH) and the ProefCentrum voor Sierteelt (PCS). The project is supported and co-financed by the LIFE + program of the European Commission and by regional and federal administrations responsible for environment in Belgium (ANB, IBGE-BIM, FPS-HFCSE-DG Env, SPW-DGOARNE).


The LIFE + program

The AlterIAS project is supported and co-financed by the LIFE+ program of the European Commission. LIFE is a program through which the European Union co-finance nature conservation projects or projects for preserving environment. It is a very important financial tool for European Union countries. Since 1992, LIFE has co-financed numerous projects, for a total amount of 1.35 billion euros. Over the last 15 years, the European Commission has contributed to financing almost 300 projects addressing the IAS issue, for a total budget exceeding 132 million euros.