Non-native invasive species cost the UK economy £1.8bn every year, according to government figures. Experts believe the UK is home to around 2,000 non-native species, with about 10-15% of these deemed invasivel. According to DEFRA’s own estimates, between 36 and 48 new invasive species will become established in the next 20 years in Great Britain.
EU Regulation 1143/2014/EU: On the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species
05 Nov 2014
Following an Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) inquiry into the threat invasives pose to the UK, the cross-party group of MPs concluded that slowing the rate of arrival of invasive species should be the government’s first priority and that “even the smallest biosecurity measures are worth taking”.
But compared to other areas of biosecurity spending by DEFRA, such as animal and plant health, the invasive species regime receives just 0.4% of the total biosecurity spend, say the MPs.
EAC has concluded that Great Britain’s Non-Native Species GB Secretariat must receive at least £3 million a year to meet its key priorities. This would ensure that “rapid responses to threats are undertaken with the specialist capacity required, saving on long term management costs,” resulting in a likely 50% decrease in the establishment of invasives over the next 20 years.
The government should also establish an emergency fund for rapid responses where agencies need short term funding to tackle a threat, to avoid a repeat of such outbreaks like the 2005 invasion of the oak processionary moth.
A dedicated invasive non-native species inspectorate, would “improve biosecurity at the UK’s borders and tackle the risks from increased online trade and new trade routes,” according to EAC’s report.
EAC also said coordinated work on invasive species across England, Wales and Scotland should be extended to include Northern Ireland.
Zoe Davies, policy and campaigns manager at the Wildlife and Countryside Link said: “It’s long overdue that government rectifies these historical mistakes and makes its response to invasive species as robust as any other area of biosecurity, with a dedicated and adequately resourced inspectorate on a par with other biosecurity areas [such as] the National Bee Unit”.
To view EAC’s report in full click here