At WWT London Wetland Centre today, government minister Lord Rooker launched a new plan to deal with invasive species which damage our wildlife.
It is the first time that Great Britain has had a coordinated strategy to reduce the threat of invasive non-native species. The strategy will support the important work already carried out by WWT and other organisations across the country.
Some non-native species adapt to life over here without upsetting the local wildlife while others cause serious problems for biodiversity. The impact can affect us and the economy. Invasive non-native species are considered to be the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss.
At the launch today Dr Debbie Pain, director of conservation, said:
“Since WWT London Wetland Centre opened, we have successfully controlled the impact of invasive species such as the Azolla fern which left unchecked, could choke our wetlands and stifle the fantastic range of wildlife that thrives on them.
“Sadly we face a constant battle as species encroach from neighbouring waterways. Much of the problem is the lack of awareness of the damage some species can do. The government has today shown real leadership by stepping in to co-ordinate the work many worthwhile organisations do in managing this problem.”
Invasive non-native species damage native wildlife through predation, competition and the spread of disease. Though WWT has been successful at controlling such species on our reserves, coordination at national level will help reduce the rate of new invasions in the future by:
- Educating people of the damage done by non-native species so they don’t release them into the wild
- Bringing together experience from land managers, academic researchers, conservation bodies and trade organisations
- Improving coordination of existing programmes and activities
In addition to the strategy launched today a consultation was launched in November 2007 to add additional non-native species to Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 that will make it an offence to release them into the wild. The consultation also looks at making it an offence to sell the most invasive non-native species. Responses are currently being considered by the government.