The 15th to 21st May is Invasive Species Week.
Over 2,000 plants and animals have been introduced to Britain from all over the world by people. And these are called non-native species.
Many of our agricultural species such as wheat and barley aren’t native to Britain, but about 10-15% become invasive non-native species. These spread and do harm, contributing in no small way to global biodiversity loss.
Examples include Japanese knotweed, the Asian hornet, Signal crayfish, Himalayan balsam, and the grey squirrel.
In Britain, they threaten the survival of native wildlife and damage natural ecosystems. And they are costly to the environment, and more.
The North Wales Wildlife Trust says they compete for resources, such as light and water. They predate on native species, and they carry diseases. And invasive species breed with closely related native species. And since 1976, they have been thought to cost the UK economy between £5.4 and £13.7 billion – that’s about £122 million a year!
So organisations across the British Isles and Ireland are working to raise awareness of the impacts invasive non-native species can have and how we can help protect the environment.
Volunteer to tackle invasive non-native species
You could volunteer to help with the management of invasive non-native species and help native species habitats to recover. There’s nothing like volunteering in the open to help with wellbeing, to connect with nature and meet people who share a similar interest and wish to help the countryside and protect our environment.
There are Local Action Groups and also projects you can get involved with. Even if you don’t have enough time to volunteer but want to help, there will be things you can do to help stop the spread of non-native species. Find your Local Action Group here.
The North Wales Wildlife Trust has more information and details of ways you can support their efforts to tackle invasive non-native species They have videos you can watch to give you actions you can take. For example, you can
- Help prevent and reduce the spread of invasive species – for example if you enjoy recreational water activities
- Identify invasive species – they have an app to help you do just this
- Volunteer and help tackle invasive species locally
- Be a citizen scientist – report invasive species you see in Wales
- Help Stop the Spread and adopt simple biosecurity principles. The North Wales Wildlife Trust says that “Biosecurity is the effective management of risks posed by invasive non-native species, pests or harmful pathogens focusing on the prevention stage.”
There are three things we can all do:
Check clothing and equipment for mud, or bits of plants or aquatic animals when you leave water and leave anything you find on the site.
Clean everything with great thoroughness, especially those damp and hard-to-access areas. Use hot water if you can.
Dry everything thoroughly because some invasive species can close to 2 weeks in damp conditions!