Target: Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment
Goal: Demand a comprehensive strategy to halt the potentially devastating spread of invasive flatworms
Snails and earthworms play important roles in the garden and in the wild. Snails help disperse seeds while decomposing organic material, and love to feed on small ‘pest’ insects. Earthworms help aerate and fertilize soil. Both these creatures face a new and devastating threat from flatworms that are listed among the 100 most dangerous invasive species in the world.
New Guinean flatworms may be tiny–barely two inches in length–but their appetite for snails and worms knows no limit. Europe is host to hundreds of snail varieties, some of which are under protection as endangered species. Jean-Lou Justine, a representative with France’s National Museum of Natural History and a professor of parasitology, has gone so far as to say that “All snails in Europe could be wiped out” by the menacing flatworms.
A few European nations have begun monitoring flatworm populations and are working to prevent accidental imports. But the European Union needs cooperative and comprehensive strategies if it is to stem this growing threat to agriculture and biodiversity. Call on Europe to act immediately to protect the continent’s precious snail and earthworm populations.
Dear Commissioner Potočnik,
As the Commissioner tasked with making policy recommendations to protect biodiversity, I call on you to coordinate strategies across Europe to halt the invasion of the New Guinean flatworm. The continent faces many environmental challenges, and I feel strongly that this threat to earthworms and endangered snails that are so critical to agriculture and soil health demands your attention.
The flatworm has already invaded at least 15 nations and territories in the Pacific, and has been positively identified in France. Its appetite for snails and earthworms has earned it a place among the 100 most dangerous invasive species, and to make matters worse it feels right at home in temperate European climates. Some scientists have speculated that the flatworms could completely obliterate snail populations. While a few nations are scrambling to respond, a comprehensive strategy from your office is needed to spread information about this threat and support all nations wishing to prevent the flatworm’s foothold.
I urge you to commit to researching this invasive danger, and to present policy recommendations to the European Commission. Only the concerted efforts of all member states can prevent the spread of the New Guinean flatworm and its potentially devastating impact on biodiversity.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia