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Land & Biodiversity

ELI’s Invasive Species Program

Every day, new non-native species arrive in the United States. Some are intentionally imported for use as pets, food, or nursery crops, while others hitchhike aboard ships or planes. Still others arrive unnoticed as pests or pathogens. Many of these non-native organisms die out. Others become established and cause harm to the environment, economy, and human health. These invasive species cause up to $137 billion in damages each year in the United States, and they are among the top threats to endangered species worldwide.

The Environmental Law Institute’s Invasive Species Program promotes the development and implementation of laws, regulations, and policies that prevent introduction of invasive species and minimize the harm caused by them.

Featured Areas of Expertise and Resources:
  • Biofuel and Invasion: Many characteristics desired in biofuel feedstocks are also found in invasive species. ELI investigates the legal connections between these issues to ensure that renewable fuel development does not cause other environmental harms.

  • Linking Climate Change and Invasive Species Policies: Whether through habitat fragmentation, shifting temperature regimes, opening up new invasion pathways, or other mechanisms, climate change will deeply affect invasive species management. ELI studies the interactions between climate change and invasive species, and works to increase consideration of climate in aquatic invasive species management and to guide development of policies for movement of species internationally.

  • Strengthening National, Regional, and State Invasive Species Policies: ELI is the foremost authority on state laws and regulations related to invasive species. Our 2002 report, Halting the Invasion, remains the seminal resource on how states can approach invasive species policy, and the associated model state law remains a key resource for policy-makers. ELI has also focused on evaluations of specific state and federal laws and programs for forest pests, weeds, aquatic invasive species, and animals. Finally, ELI provides nuanced analysis of new policy tools, such as TMDLs and financial responsibility policies, to address invasive species.