Consultation on the release of Puccinia komarovii var. glandulifera against Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)

Your views and associated supporting evidence are sought by Defra on the Pest Risk Assessment for Puccinia komarovii var. glanduliferae and the proposal to lift quarantine restrictions. Defra are also seeking your views on the utilisation of this pathogen (after rigorous safety testing) for the biocontrol of the highly invasive non-native plant, Himalayan balsam, (Impatiens glandulifera).

The exercise is being carried out in line with usual practice for consulting on risk assessments on new and revised plant health threats. Click on picture to go straight to the FERA document.

Please send responses by 16/06/2014 to Simon Mackown at:
Defra, Room 115, 2 The Square Temple Quay, , Tel:

The closing date for the consultation is the 16/06/2014.

Posted in News | Comments Off on Consultation on the release of Puccinia komarovii var. glandulifera against Himalayan balsam (Impatiens glandulifera)

EU blacklist to stop spread of alien species

Invasive Giant Hogweed

There has been a focus on Invasive Non Native Species (INNS)  in the media recently, due to the European Parliament backing new legislation to tackle the problem. Click on the picture to find the full story on the BBC website.

Posted in News | Comments Off on EU blacklist to stop spread of alien species

“Infamous Five” pond plants banned in England and Wales.

Parrots Feather choking a river, copyright GB NNSS

After years of campaigning, Plantlife welcomed a new law which came into force in England and Wales on April 1st 2014, that banned the sale of five non-native pond plants that have wreaked havoc with the environment, putting our native wildflowers and wildlife in serious jeopardy.

The Infamous Five: The following non-native, invasive pond plants have been banned from sale as of the 1 April 2014:

1. Water fern

2. Parrot’s feather

3. Floating pennywort

4. Water primrose

5. New Zealand pigmyweed (aka Australian swamp stonecrop)

But many other invasive plants are still at large and Plantlife has drawn up a list of 12 non-native plants that are causing the most damage to the countryside and our native species. Plantife’s “Dirty Dozen” includes old chestnuts like rhododendron, modern day disasters like Himalayan balsam and some perhaps unexpected villains, such as the exotic-looking Hottentot fig. See Plantlife website for list:

 Plantlife’s Dr Trevor Dines says “Invasive plants have often followed well trodden paths from garden centre to countryside. People have put them in their gardens but then found them to be too aggressive, and have then dug them up and discarded them, perhaps through fly tipping. That has given them just the launch pad into the wild they needed. Other species like Cotoneaster have received as much of a helping hand from nature as from humans, being scattered from gardens by birds feasting on the berries. It is the very existence of these species in our gardens and parks which is the biggest problem.”

Most of the Dirty Dozen have long been identified as a risk in England and Wales through the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which makes it an offence to plant or otherwise cause them to grow in the wild. But that hasn’t stopped them becoming established there.

Dr Trevor Dines says some plants have taken us by surprise. “While plants like Japanese knotweed are obviously very aggressively invasive, others have come in under the radar. We didn’t understand the effect of New Zealand pigmyweed, for example, until it was too late.”

Plantlife estimates that £1.7 billion is spent each year on trying to control non-native invasive plants in the British countryside.

Dr Trevor Dines says “We’ve got to recognise that with some species, we have lost the battle but with others we still have a chance to seek out and eradicate them, we need to target resources to special places.”

Plantlife are currently battling to control cotoneaster on the Isle of Portland in Dorset and also the Gower in Wales but are calling on gardeners to do their bit to help.

“If we as a nation of gardeners have inadvertently caused much of the problem, then the good news is that we can solve much of it by the choices we make. The most effective way to stop the spread of these plants is for us to avoid planting them in the first place. We can all do our bit.”


Posted in News | Comments Off on “Infamous Five” pond plants banned in England and Wales.

Volunteers vital in continued mainland mink removal

One of the largest volunteering projects in Scotland aimed at removal of non-native mink has been praised for its pioneering work.

The Scottish Mink Initiative (SMI) has more than 480 dedicated volunteers. 

Mink wreak havoc on water vole, ground nesting birds and native fish and the SMI is focused on vital work in north Scotland and the Highlands.

Launched in 2011, the SMI comprises Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland (RAFTS); the Scottish Wildlife Trust; the University of Aberdeen; Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH); Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), and more than 13 other organisations.

Now in the second phase of the project, mink monitoring rafts and volunteer networks are coordinated by local fisheries trusts.

SMI Project Manager, Chris Horrill, stressed that although anecdotal reports are encouraging, more work is required to rid these areas of breeding American mink.

 “The SMI has built and expanded on the success of volunteer-based mink control in Scotland by establishing a network of more than 480 volunteers and control across 30,000 km² of northern Scotland,” he confirmed.

“We have seen less captures and sightings, and work by the University of Aberdeen in addition to anecdotal reports of the recovery of previously locally extinct water vole populations within the SMI area, suggest it has significantly impacted on American mink populations. 

“However, we should not become complacent as we continue to face challenges to remove the last remnants of mink – especially in remote areas and there is always the issue of preventing re-colonisation.

“It is therefore imperative that we continue to maintain and expand our efforts.”

Professor of Ecology at the University of Aberdeen and advisor to the project, Xavier Lambin, said: “Vast swathes of the project area have not had resident mink impacting the native fauna for months or years in some places.

“This is a huge success and the start of a gradual restoration process of riparian ecosystems. There is already some evidence that water voles, one of the species most severely affected by American mink, have started reclaiming their former range.

“While for now recolonisation of water voles is restricted to those places that could be reached by colonists spreading from a few hilltop strongholds which escaped mink predation (such as in upper Donside and Deeside where spectacular recoveries have taken place), the process of recolonisation and restoration of the ecosystem will gather pace as an increasing fraction of the vast amount of suitable but empty habitat will become within reach of recolonists dispersing in a stepping stone manner.

“As the project continues, we expect that species that have been absent will again become part of riparian ecosystem and the efforts of so many volunteers will be rewarded.”

Posted in News | Comments Off on Volunteers vital in continued mainland mink removal

New American Signal Crayfish Research Published

Invasive species are a major cause of species extinction in freshwater ecosystems, and crayfish species are particularly pervasive. The invasive American signal crayfish Pacifastacus leniusculus has impacts over a range of trophic levels, but particularly on benthic aquatic macroinvertebrates. This study examined the effect on the macroinvertebrate community of removal trapping of signal crayfish from UK rivers. Click on the thumbnail for the full article.

Posted in News | Comments Off on New American Signal Crayfish Research Published

New Code of Practice launched to encourage responsible pet ownership

The Ornamental Aquatic Trade Association (OATA) and the Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association (REPTA) have joined forces to launch a new Code of Practice for traders and pet owners to help encourage responsible ownership.

The vast majority of non-native pets in the UK are ornamental fish and reptiles so the code outlines people’s responsibilities when they keep animals that are foreign to the UK, in particular the importance of making sure they do not escape into the wild and cause a problem to native wildlife.

The code covers three main issues for pet owners when it comes to buying and keeping a non-native pet:

  • The importance of not releasing the pet into the wild or allowing it to escape
  • The need to properly dispose of old bedding and pet litter so that eggs and pests can’t get into the wild
  • The importance for owners of researching and preparing themselves for all that’s involved in keeping their chosen pet for the whole of its life.

It also urges traders involved in selling pets to:

  • Make sure customers know and understand all the commitments involved for the pet they want to buy
  • Make sure pets are free of pests and parasites as far as possible when they’re sold

Click on the thumbnail to read the whole document.

Posted in News | Comments Off on New Code of Practice launched to encourage responsible pet ownership

Scottish Mink Initiative News Hot Off The Press!

We are very pleased to inform you that our Scottish Mink Initiative Coordinator, Ann-Marie, has put together another cracking newsletter for your enjoyment! It features all of the latest updates from our member trusts who are involved with the project, updates from the University of Aberdeen, details of upcoming events and much more! Click on thumbnail to follow the link, then get comfy and enjoy!

Posted in News | Comments Off on Scottish Mink Initiative News Hot Off The Press!

Invasion of alien species to Ireland on the increase

Invasion of alien species to Ireland is on the increase with nearly four times more seen in the wild in the last century than the previous one. Help is needed to combat their threat to our biodiversity, economy and health. (Click thumbnail for full report)

  • 13% of the alien species are listed as invasive species which have a negative impact on our economy and biodiversity
  • The estimated annual cost of alien species to Ireland is €261 million
  • 31 identification sheets have been produced to help people identify some of the invasive species already in Ireland and others that might soon arrive
  • This is a call to everyone to help prevent their introduction to Ireland and the wild and to report sightings of them.

We all have our part to play in protecting Ireland’s biodiversity and economy” says Colette O’Flynn. She continues, “with the worrying increasing trend in invasions we must carefully consider the types of plants and animals we are bringing into the country and be sure that we do not allow the invasive species to enter into the wild”. To aid with identifying and reporting sightings of these invasive species, the National Biodiversity Data Centre has produced 31 identification sheets and supported development of the Invasives Ireland phone app by Longford County Council. Interestingly, half of the 12 invasive species recorded between 2001 and 2010 were first seen and reported by members of the public. These included reports of Siberian chipmunk, Chinese mitten-crab and Harlequin ladybird.

The report Ireland’s invasive and non-native species – trends in introductions published today by the National Biodiversity Data Centre [Thursday, February 6th, 2014] reveals their increase in introductions to our shores and looks at new invader species which could arrive in the future. To date, the majority of invasive species in Ireland are plants, but the future trend may be towards invertebrate and vertebrate species comprising a greater percentage of all new arrivals. Species such as Killer shrimp, Raccoon dog or the Oak processionary moth.

Colette O’Flynn, one of the report’s authors notes that ‘the percentage of invasive species in Ireland is comparable to other European countries as is the dramatic recent increase in introductions which is linked to increased movement of people and goods throughout the world’. Colette O’Flynn urges the “need for analysis to identify where the species are being introduced from and how they are getting here as they may be introduced through intentional trade or unintentional ‘hitchhiking’. Knowing this can help us see how best to prevent these species invading Ireland”.

The report also highlights that while the majority of species are found in the terrestrial environment the rate of increase in introductions is increasing for all environments with the greatest increase for the freshwater environment since 1980. The freshwater environment is also the only environment where analysis indicates that freshwater non-native species are more likely to be high impact invaders where they are introduced.

To download the identification sheets, see what invasive species we have in Ireland or if any are already reported in your area visit the National Invasive Species Database website

Posted in News | Comments Off on Invasion of alien species to Ireland on the increase

A Focus on Himalayan Balsam

Recently there have been a couple of interesting papers published on the impacts of Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens glandulifera) on our ecosystems in the UK. Cabi have written an interesting summary about a study into the impacts on invertebrates, with a link to the paper at the bottom of the article. Click on picture for the full article.

Another interesting paper has been published on the effects of soil erosion linked with Himalayan Balsam:

Greenwood__Kuhn H.BALSAM PAPER

Posted in News | Comments Off on A Focus on Himalayan Balsam

Invasive Non-native Species Education Materials and Quiz on ARKive

Invasive Non-Native Harlequin Ladybird

Wildscreen, a charity working globally to promote an appreciation of biodiversity and nature through the power of wildlife imagery, recently undertook a new project to help raise awareness of invasive non-native species, with help from the GBNNSS, Local Action Groups, and other experts.

The project involved the production of a number of educational resources for primary and secondary schools, and new species profiles for one of Wildscreen’s main initiatives, the ARKive website.

Click on the picture above for the main website, where you will find links to education materials and activities. Follow the link below for INNS quiz to see how much you know!





Posted in News | Comments Off on Invasive Non-native Species Education Materials and Quiz on ARKive