News story

Stop the spread for Invasive Species Week

The second annual Invasive Species Week starts on 29 February and will run until 6 March.

Gardeners, birdwatchers, sportspeople and recreational anglers are being called on to help protect the UK from the threat of invasive non-native species, Minister for Biosecurity Lord Gardiner announced today as he launched Invasive Species Week.

INNS cost the British economy £1.7 billion a year. To help stop INNS arriving and spreading, Defra and the GB Non-native Species Secretariat are holding a special week to raise awareness of the issue.

It will bring together organisations from across Britain who can help stop INNS damaging our landscapes and harming our native wildlife. While the majority of animals and plants introduced to Britain are harmless, around 10-15% become ‘invasive’.

Lord Gardiner will be visiting Walthamstow Reservoirs, one of Thames Water’s key recreational sites, which boasts a rich bird habitat with a number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest making up the ten individual reservoirs. It offers activities such as angling, sailing, windsurfing and bird watching. The Minister will see how they work with users to promote biosecurity measures.

Speaking ahead of his visit Lord Gardiner said:

Our country has some of the most precious wildlife and beautiful landscapes in the world, but by clogging pipes, overpowering plants and disturbing ecosystems, invasive non-native species can pose a risk to animal, plant and even human health.

By checking and cleaning our water sport equipment after use and making sure garden plants do not escape into the wild, we can all help stop the spread of invasive non-native species. I hope people use this week to learn more about the simple steps they can take to protect our natural environment.

This year Invasive Species Week coincides with the fifth anniversary of Check, Clean, Dry – a campaign launched by Defra and the Welsh and Scottish Governments in March 2011. The campaign is supported by the Angling Trust and Royal Yachting Association, to provide simple biosecurity advice for recreational water users, particularly anglers, and boat and kayak users.

The campaign was launched after the success of Be Plant Wise, a campaign run with the support of the Ornamental and Aquatic Trade Association and the Horticultural Trade Association. The initiative keeps gardeners and pond owners informed of the dangers caused by invasive aquatic plants and to reduce the risk of them dumping aquatic plants in the wild.

Niall Moore, Chief Non-native Species Officer and Head of the GB Non-native Species Secretariat, said:

Invasive non-native species are one of the key threats to our wildlife and natural environment, and can be extremely costly and difficult to manage if allowed to establish. Help to prevent this from happening by getting involved and spreading the message during Invasive Species Week.

Stuart Smith, Head of Water Production at Thames Water, said:

We have a lot of experience in dealing with invasive species, which can harm boats, water pipes and whole ecosystems, and are fully behind the campaign. While there is no threat to the quality of the water we supply to our customers, we rely on the help and support of boaters, anglers and other users in protecting all our waters.

Follow the @CheckCleanDryGB Twitter account for tips on how you can help limit the spread of invasive species.

Visit the GB Non-native Species Secretariat website for more information on Check Clean Dry and Be Plantwise