Help us look out for Invasive Non-Native Species!
Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) can be found in many habitats across the UK, and numbers are on the increase. According to the GB Invasive Non-Native Species strategy (2015), impacts include:
- Environmental: Disrupting habitats and ecosystems, preying on or outcompeting native species, spreading disease, and interfering with the genetic integrity of native species. The ecological impact of some INNS, such as the American mink, signal crayfish and grey squirrel are well known, but many other impacts are less visible;
- Economic: The cost of INNS in GB is at least £1.7 billion per year. Much of this cost is borne by the agriculture and horticulture sector, but many other sectors, including transport, construction, aquaculture, recreation and utilities, are also affected. Japanese knotweed alone is estimated to cost the British economy around £166 million per year;
- Social: Some species cause problems to human health or are a nuisance to landowners. Invasive plants clog water bodies preventing access for navigation and angling. Some significant threats to human health are posed by species not yet in GB but that could establish in the future. For example, the Asian hornet which has killed at least seven people in France since its introduction, and ragweed which has substantially increased hay fever suffering across many European countries.
See the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat website for a wealth of information, including identification sheets here: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?sectionid=47
Together, we can help protect ourselves, Shropshire's wildlife, landscapes and environments.
Keep an eye out for non-native invasive species, and don't release, move or dump unwanted non-natives or exotic pets in the wild:
- It is illegal
- They can affect your health, spread disease and cause allergies
- They threaten your sport/hobby etc.
- They can threaten our native plants, animals and habitats
- They can cost you a lot of money if you are liable for their removal
Land-owners, Farmers & Land-Managers
Generally, it is not illegal to have non-native invasive species on your land/in your garden/allotment, but reasonable steps must be taken to prevent them spreading elsewhere. Working in partnership with neighbouring landowners is critical to prevent re-colonisation when tackling many of these species, and working from the top of a river catchment downstream is vital for several water-related species, like Himalayan balsam and Giant Hogweed. Seasonal timing for control efforts is also key. Identification sheets and management guides for a few common species are listed below. Anyone looking to attempt INNS management is likely to require Environment Agency and/or Natural England permission in advance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prevent-the-spread-of-harmful-invasive-and-non-native-plants .
If your land includes a protected site, e.g. SSSI, Nature Reserve, you can contact Natural England via a single email address now for any request for assent, consent or enquiries regarding protected sites which would include herbicide type requests and other forms of invasive species control: ProtectedSites@naturalengland.org.uk .
- Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) identification sheet: https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/downloadDocument.cfm?id=33 and management: https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/downloadDocument.cfm?id=1766
- Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) ***PLEASE NOTE: Sap from this species causes ongoing severe skin reactions and blistering in sunlight (phytotoxicity). Do not touch with bare skin*** Identification sheet: https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/downloadDocument.cfm?id=30 and management: https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/downloadDocument.cfm?id=1910
- Japanese Knotweed (Fallopia japonica) identification sheet: https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/nonnativespecies/downloadDocument.cfm?id=369 and management: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?pageid=226
Further species with management guidance are listed here: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?sectionid=53 .
Government guidance for how to help stop the spread of invasive plants can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/prevent-the-spread-of-harmful-invasive-and-non-native-plants
Do you want to get involved in recording non-native invasive species?
There are various ways of tackling these species, and you may be able to get involved with a volunteer group near you. Various Wildlife Groups are taking action on invasives: find a Shropshire Wildlife Group near you here: http://www.shropscwgs.org.uk/ .
A list of national non-native invasive species recording schemes is available here: http://www.nonnativespecies.org//index.cfm?sectionid=81 , and if you want to conduct your own survey, check out INNS Mapper: https://ywt-data.org/inns-mapper/
An excellent way to learn more is to undertake the free e-learning modules on the GB Non-Native Species Secretariat website here: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/elearning/ and the Biosecurity online training from the University of Leeds: https://openeducation.blackboard.com/mooc-catalog/courseDetails/view?course_id=_1189_1
Keep up with the latest species alerts here: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/alerts/index.cfm
Do you visit rivers, lakes, ponds, canals etc.? Every time you get out of the water, or you take your boat, paddleboard, fishing gear or other equipment out, use Check, Clean, Dry to help stop the spread of non-native invasive species: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/checkcleandry/ . If you have a dog who loves water, giving them a clean/making sure they're dry before heading to the next watercourse for a walk and play will help, too.
Are you a gardener or allotment-holder? Check out the Plant Alert app and help horizon-scan for the next non-native invasive species: https://bsbi.org/wp-content/uploads/dlm_uploads/Plant-Alert-Release-May-2020-FINAL.pdf
Are you into canoeing/paddle-boarding or kayaking? British Canoeing & the University of Leeds are running a survey to understand the movement of UK paddlers, how equipment is cleaned and stored & to gather opinions on INNS: https://leeds.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/paddlers-activities-and-invasive-non-native-species-3
Non-native invasive species identification sheets are available here: http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?sectionid=47
Follow @InvasiveSp on Twitter to keep up with the latest, and use hashtags: #INNS #InvasiveSpecies #Biosecurity #invasivesweek
Keep an eye on the potential Nature Volunteer Force/Citizens' Army, being considered in light of the successful New Zealand approach: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/62/environmental-audit-committee/news/146382/invasive-species-report-published-19-21/
The Environment Agency is conducting research into using eDNA to detect INNS more easily:
Help us spread the word, and thanks for being the eyes and ears to help protect our native wildlife!
Volunteer for Shropshire Wildlife Trust: https://www.shropshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/volunteer
Find out more about what we do on the rivers: https://www.shropshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/rivers
Shropshire Wildlife Trust have recently been awarded a Water Environment Grant by Natural England, funded through the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and by Defra, for 2020-2021. This project aims to bring together a Local Action Group for Shropshire, for all non-native invasive species. In addition, we will be controlling Himalayan balsam in a few key areas (sites to be confirmed) using novel bio-control methods. Find out more about the use of a rust fungus as a biocontrol agent via CABI's YouTube video here: https://youtu.be/IxGZ7bmdt30 . Our colleagues at Warwickshire Wildlife Trust have been running a similar scheme: http://www.tamevalleywetlands.co.uk/beat-the-balsam-biological-control-of-himalayan-balsam/
The Shropshire Invasive Non-Native Species Initiative (SINNSI) project is led by the steering group formed with representatives from local farming groups, the NFU, Environment Agency, Shropshire Council, Telford & Wrekin Council, Severn Rivers Trust, Natural England and more. The GB Invasive Non-Native Species strategy and Midlands Regional Invasive Species Management Plan will help guide this work.
With thanks to The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development for providing the funding to make this project possible, via the Water Environment Grant administered by Natural England: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/water-environment-grant-weg-handbooks-guidance-and-forms/guide-for-applicants-water-environment-grant