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Combatting invasive species through action

Following Plant Health Week last week, May 15 to 21, 2023, has been designated Invasive Species Week.

While the aims of both initiatives overlap a little, Invasive Species Week focuses specifically on raising awareness of the impacts of invasive non-native species and the measures stakeholders can take to prevent this.

Over 2,000 plants and animals have been introduced to GB from all over the world by people. While most of these species are harmless, a minority (estimated 10 – 15%) become established as invasive non-native species. The effects of these non-native species are spread and have a negative impact on the environment.

The extent of this impact depends on the species, but invasive non-native species have the potential to threaten native wildlife, damage natural ecosystems, and cost the economy £2 billion per year. There is also the potential for social impacts, such as interference with human activity and even health. An example of this is oak processionary moth, the details of which are covered in the other newsletter article this week.

Climate change is likely to increase the validity of the UK as a destination for invasive species to establish, as well as allow non-native species already present to become invasive due to favorable conditions. The oak processionary moth is an example of this; since being accidentally introduced in 2006 in London, the pest has been confined to London and south-eastern counties due to their warmer climate. However, research suggests climate change is likely to permit the pest to spread further north.

The actions sought from stakeholders depend on their role. Landscape professionals are encouraged to improve their awareness and understanding of invasive non-native species to ensure they and their colleagues respond appropriately when they discover species. The following free e-learning modules have been highlighted:

  • an introduction to non-native species
  • identification and recording
  • biosecurity 

For more information:
British Association of Landscape Industries

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