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Towards an integrative management of Invasive Alien Plant Species in Mediterranean sea cliffs of European interest

Reference: LIFE20 NAT/ES/001223 | Acronym: LIFE medCLIFFS



The mild climate of the Mediterranean basin and high pressure from human-related activities facilitates the introduction and dispersion of invasive alien plant species (IAPS), gardening being the main cause of their establishment. In Catalonia, a total of 812 alien plant species have been identified, of which more than 10% (90 species) are considered invasive or detrimental for the conservation of native species. These IAPS are concentrated in the coastal area, and the Costa Brava in Girona province is one of the most affected zones. The habitat type Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranean coasts with endemic Limonium spp. (1240) is one of the habitats most impacted by the presence of IAPS. The Costa Brava has almost half the total surface area of this habitat type in Spain (close to 610 ha; 130 km of coastline). This area hosts numerous endemic species and provides important ecosystem services. The effective management of IAPS is constrained because most of the potentially invasive species are not listed in any legislation and because of the limited resources dedicated to prevention or early warning. For the sea cliff habitat, the control of IAPS is also hindered by its characteristic intricate geography.


The main objective of this project is to define and validate an effective management strategy for IAPS in the habitat type of Community interest Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranean coasts with endemic Limonium spp. (1240).

The specific objectives are:

  • To prevent the introduction of invasive alien species (IAS) and integrate biodiversity into the market by: increasing awareness within the ornamental plant and tourism/recreational sectors and the general public; triggering the development of a legal framework for the prevention and control of IAPS at regional level; and identifying key agents taking part in the propagation or establishment of IAPS and engaging them in the co-creation and adoption of tools for integrating control of IAPS into the market;
  • To enable participative networks for early detection and rapid eradication of IAPS by: grabbing the attention of local communities, visitors and the general public and seeking their participation in a citizen science online platform; and training and engaging volunteers and local experts in flora to participate in a voluntary monitoring network of some selected coastal areas with high risk of invasion;
  • To improve rapid response to IAPS by: testing and applying the open access tool RISKMAPR for risk evaluation and prediction of the spread of IAS propagules (plant parts that can grow into a new plant) at local level and prioritising surveillance and/or control of invaded/potentially invaded areas; integrating the tool, validated for the target habitat, at regional scale; and seeking its potential application at national and Mediterranean/European levels, as well as in other habitats; and
  • To eradicate, control and contain the most severe IAPS by: applying vertical eradication work and selective chemical and biological control techniques in those populations of hottentot fig (Carpobrotus edulis and C. acinaciformis), prickly pear (Opuntia maxima and O. stricta) and Gazania rigens which compromise conservation of the endemic species Limonium geronense, L. tremolsii and Seseli farrenyi; and developing protocols and guidelines for the methods applied and transferring them to relevant managers at regional, national and Mediterranean/European levels.

The project is in line with the EU’s IAS Regulation, 2030 Biodiversity Strategy and 8th Environment Action Programme, as well as the UN’s Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development 2016-2025 and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals.


Expected results:

  • Prevention of IAPS introduction, and integration of biodiversity into the market: elaboration of a code of conduct to be voluntarily signed by stakeholders of the ornamental plant sector and creation of a quality label for providers and users;
  • Participative networks for early detection and rapid eradication of IAPS: training and participation of at least 400 people in the iNaturalist project (600 notifications/year on 30 IAPS); training and participation of at least 200 expert volunteers to monitor population characteristics of 30 IAPS (100 coastline sections of 1 km each, twice a year);
  • Improvement of rapid response to IAPS: development and implementation of an automatic risk assessment system, tested with at least 30 IAPS. Elaboration of risk maps and full reports for management purposes. Completion of a database on IAPS, to be regularly updated with information from volunteers and land managers. Integration of the risk assessment tool into the IAS regional management system by the competent authority (DACC) and extension to the rest of Catalonia. Transfer of the tool to a minimum of 4 organisations managing sites with the target habitat (2 national, 2 at European level) with at least 1 commitment for implementation; and
  • Eradication of severe IAPS in sensitive areas: 18 ha of Opuntia species, 18 ha of G. rigens and almost 11 ha of Carpobrotus species in total. Publication of novel protocols and guidelines. Coordinated strategies for eradication actions in private gardens. Transfer of technical products to the 4 most suitable replication areas (2 at national level and 2 at European level).


Reference: LIFE20 NAT/ES/001223
Acronym: LIFE medCLIFFS
Start Date: 01/10/2021
End Date: 30/09/2026
Total Eligible Budget: 1,408,273 €
EU Contribution: 843,814 €


Legal Status: PAT
Address: Serrano 117, 28006, Madrid,
Contact Person: Sònia Garcia Giménez
Email: Send Email
Website: Visit Website

LIFE Project Map



  • Sensitive and protected areas management
  • Coastal
  • Awareness raising - Information
  • Invasive species
  • Public and Stakeholders participation
  • Plants


  • coastal area
  • endemic species
  • environmental education
  • nature reserve
  • protected area
  • decision making support
  • biodiversity
  • risk management
  • land restoration
  • voluntary work
  • restoration
  • invasive species
  • sensitive area
  • preventive measure
  • endangered species
  • data acquisition
  • ecosystem-based approach
  • knowledge development


  • COM(2011) 244 final “Our life insurance, our natural capital: an EU biodiversity strategy to 2020” (03.05.2011)
  • Regulation 1143/2014 - Prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species (22.10.2014)


  • 1240 - Vegetated sea cliffs of the Mediterranean coasts with endemic Limonium spp.


Name Type
FC(Associació Flora Catalana), Spain Participant
MCNB(Consorci del Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona), Spain Participant
DDGI(Diputació de Girona), Spain Participant
DACC(Departament d'Acció Climàtica, Alimentació i Agenda Rural), Spain Participant
FVC(Federació d’agricultors Viveristes de Catalunya), Spain Participant
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas Coordinator
(AVG) Associació de Viveristes de Girona, Spain Participant
(AVT) Associació de Viveristes de Tarragona, Spain Participant
(ADV-AVB) Agrupació de Defensa Vegetal - Associació de Viveristes de Barcelona, Spain Participant