Invasive non-native species costs the farming industry billions each year, causing devastating harm to biodiversity.
What’s going on?
Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) wreak havoc on biodiversity.
From strangling the successful growth of native plants and shrubs and infiltrating waterways to decimating native populations and changing the food chain, the damage can be disastrous. Their introduction, whether intentional or otherwise, can have far reaching effects and financial costs to the detriment of the farming industry.
Many INNS are introduced via imports.
Accidental introduction is to be expected when we import and move large quantities of organic matter as a routine part of the industry. And as the global food supply chain becomes ever more reliant on international trade, these instances become more commonplace.
This is also a contributor to the spread of new diseases, such as Bovine TB and foot and mouth disease.
Diseases that affect our crops and animals can decimate populations that have no resilience against them. If the spread can be stemmed, the resulting costs to prevent future spread and outbreaks become absorbed by annual farming costs across entire industries.
Some also consider the pervasive monocrops and monocultures themselves to be INNS. Not only are they more susceptible to invasive disease, the process of replacing diversity with one species is so unnatural it becomes a threat.
INNS cause detriment to biodiversity on land, sea and in the air. They also increase issues of water management. For example, invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed cause blockages in waterways, which can result in flooding.
Invasive alien species have cost the UK economy between US$6.9 billion and $17.6 billion (£5.4 – £13.7 billion) in reported losses and expenses since 1976. [ii]
There are 3,248 non-native species in Great Britain, 2,016 of which are classified as established (reproducing in the wild)
The European rabbit, Japanese knotweed and the rock pigeon account for most of the spend on invasive non-native species, estimated at between £5.4bn and £13.7bn over the past 45 years, among the highest in Europe
Ash dieback is expected to kill between 70% and 90% of one of our most common trees – More than 100 million trees – over the next 20 years.[i]
Get nature positive
Community action and a reinvigorated approach to biosecurity – using nature where possible – can minimise instances where INNS enter our ecosystems, and any introductions from taking hold.
Much of the positive change to counteract this threat to biodiversity centre in the investment in nature and specifically redressing existing balances in UK biodiversity – from replanting projects to reintroductions.
Inspired by steps some farmers and other land managers are already taking, we’ve compiled suggested actions to help you on your journey to getting nature positive.
[i] Hill, L., Jones, G., Atkinson, N., Hector, A., Hemery, G. and Brown, N., 2019. The £15 billion cost of ash dieback in Britain. Current Biology, 29(9).