It's Invasive Species Week! Along with environmental organisations across the country, we're teaming up with the GB non-native species secretariat in order to lead the fight against invasive species. Many people aren't aware of the huge threat these invaders pose to our environment, so we want to help raise awareness of their impact. Without intervention, native habitats and their inhabitants could begin to disappear. What Exactly is an Invasive Species? Simply put, an invasive species is a non-native plant or animal which has been transported beyond its native range and causes harm in its new environment. Most non-native species are totally harmless, but 10-15% become invasive in their introduced range. This can have devastating consequences for native habitats and wildlife. What do you Mean by 'Harm'? The harm caused by invasive species can take many forms. They can impact our environment, our economy, and even our health!
- Predation: Because native species have never encountered the non-native species before, they don't necessarily possess the means to defend themselves against it. As a result, invaders can decimate native populations.
- Competition: In a given habitat, the native organisms which reside there have evolved alongside each other. This means that they are able to compete against one another, with each species acquiring an adequate level of resources for survival. When a non-native species is introduced, it can out-compete native organisms for resources such as food or sunlight.
- Disease: Invasive species often carry diseases, which are then spread to native populations when they become established in their non-native range.
- Destruction: Invasive species have a tendency to behave destructively, whether its through habitat creation (in the case of the Emerald Ash Borer) or feeding (like the Cottony Cushion Scale). This has huge implications for wildlife (through loss of food or habitat) as well as humans (through crop losses and habitat degradation).
- Clean your Outdoor Gear: If you like hiking, fishing, biking or other outdoor activities, make sure you clean your equipment after each use. It's very easy to accidentally pick up an uninvited guest while you're spending time outdoors, but keeping your equipment spick and span will stop them in their tracks.
- Choose Native Species: When you're planning your new garden, opt for native species. Boosting native populations is a great way to buffer against the effects of invasive species, and prevents the accidental introduction of non-natives into the wild.
- Volunteer with an Action Group: Many environmental groups (us included!) run volunteer days where you can help to tackle invasive species. Check our events page to find out how you can get involved.