Invasive Crafted Species: If you like it, craft it!

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Invasive alien species are a major environmental issue and one of the biggest causes for species extinction. Caused by the introduction of animals or plants into a new ecosystem, it has serious negative consequences to the habitats and, every year, over €12 billion are spent in preventive and remediation measures in the European Union.

How to raise awareness on Invasive Alien Species in Europe? The Bern Convention launched today a very creative campaign that combines invasive alien species,  “Do it Yourself” youtubers and beautiful crafts …  Curious about it?

“If you like it, craft it!”

Under the motto “If you like it, craft it!”, the campaign encourages people to create their own Invasive Species craft, engaging citizens under a positive and constructive message.

Famous DIY (Do It Yourself) youtubers were invited to produce beautiful crafts and share on youtube their Tutorials. The campaign highlights the dangers of exotic species and aims to involve citizens in fighting this major environmental problem.

Invasive Crafted Species involves a media and social media campaign with the release of different tutorials as well as promotional spots in 4 European languages. The campaign will be centralised at and disseminated under the hashtag #BetterCraftIt in social networks.

In order to target large population sectors with little appreciation of this issue, Invasive Crafted Species leverages on the use of social media by involving professional DIYers from different European countries with an important presence in Youtube. As part of the campaign, they have produced explainer videos on how to craft different invasive species like the water hyacinth, the common slider, the Siberian chipmunk or the ice plant, using techniques such as crochet, watercolour, polymer clay or polystyrene. This aims to highlight the contrast between the highly damaging species in the wild and the harmless crafts.

Invasive Alien Species and public awareness

and the  Invasive Crafted Species campaign

Although citizen’s release of exotic species is an important cause for this environmental crisis, most indicators point that public awareness is relatively low amongst Europeans. It is estimated that there are over 10,000 alien species present in Europe, out of which an alarming 15% represent important threats to native plants and animals. They have been found to carry diseases, devastate wild ecosystems and crops, and seriously harm biodiversity.

According to Piero Genovesi, expert on invasive alien species at IUCN, “invasions are a result of human action, and only changing our collective behaviors we can mitigate the effects of this threat.”

One of the causes for the establishment of these invasive populations is the unintentional or deliberate release of exotic species. These tend to be particularly destructive, as they initially invade fragmented ecosystems around metropolitan areas, where they thrive on the unused resources and the lack of competitors or predators. For instance:

  • 9% of invasions affecting fish were associated with the introduction of ornamental plant varieties
  • 100% of mammalian invasions have originated from the escape of pets
  • 15 bird species and 9 amphibians/reptiles commonly kept in people’s homes have been found to be invasive

In contrast with most awareness campaigns about invasive species and biodiversity loss with predominant use of doom messages, which has proved to not be efficient in encouraging citizen action. According to Iva Obretenova, Secretary of the Bern Convention, the campaign

will  improve citizens’ sensibility towards nature conservation issues is one of the Convention’s main objectives. I am certain this Campaign will be a catalyst for many people’s realization their individual actions do make a change when it comes to limiting the spread of Invasive Alien Species.

About the Bern Convention

The Bern Convention is the European treaty for the conservation of wild species and habitats on the continent. Since more than 30 years, the Convention contributes to the sustainable development of life on our planet. It was signed under the auspices of the Council of Europe in 1979, and has since been ratified by 50 countries and the European Union itself. One of the main lines of action of the treaty is the fight against invasive alien species, which are an increasing threat to European biodiversity.