Life MICA aims to develop a transnational coypu and muskrat management plan in Europe and thus help to protect waterway infrastructure, biodiversity and crops from damage.

What is the objective of the MICA project?

On January 1st 2015, a new EU regulation (No. 1143/2014) entered into force with the aims of preventing and managing damage to biodiversity and ecosystem services caused by invasive alien species (European Commission 2014).

This regulation includes a list of invasive alien species (the ‘EC list’). An invasive alien species is defined as ‘an alien species whose introduction or spread has been identified to threaten or to have adverse effects on biodiversity and related ecosystem services’. Member states dealing with these species are subjected to a number of obligations and restrictions:

  1. an obligation to establish an effective surveillance system;
  2. an obligation to implement effective elimination measures and, if not possible, effective management measures;
  3. a prohibition on import, trade, release in the wild and possession.

This Regulation is binding in its entirety and applicable in all member states. The coypu has been on this list since 2016 and the muskrat was added in 2017.

Invasive alien species such as the coypu and muskrat pose a major threat to biodiversity and cost millions of euros annually. By feeding on rushes and reeds, these animals cause serious damage to the environment in which they live and endangered species suffer from habitat loss. The disappearance of reeds and digging in dikes represents a safety risk for humans in the lowland areas.

With the Life MICA project, the partners from the participating countries want to develop a transnational plan for the management of coypu and muskrat populations in Europe and aim to reduce their populationThe objective of an effective population control of coypu and muskrat is to protect lowlands from flooding, to prevent crop damage and loss of biodiversity.

The objective of the project is to serve as a pilot and demonstration project in which ‘best practices’ are tested and new techniques are developed for a more efficient control of muskrat and coypu populations.

By involving organisations from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, the project also promotes international cooperation and knowledge exchange in the field of muskrat and coypu management.