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Raising awareness to tackle invasive species

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A CALL has been made to help fight the threat posed by non-native species to Guernsey’s biodiversity.

Biodiversity education officer Julia Henney with an example of an invasive species, an Asian hornet’s nest. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 20983079)

Invasive Species Awareness Week launches on Friday, with seven days of focused promotion on how to identify species, the problems they cause and what people can do to help control them.

Biodiversity education officer Julia Henney hoped the awareness week would educate the public on the issues surrounding the problems caused to wildlife.

‘Invasive species are cited as being the second biggest cause of biodiversity loss worldwide,’ she said.

‘Guernsey has not escaped this threat and we know of dozens of invasive species which have made their way to our island and are causing a problem.

‘We hope to use Invasive Species Week to highlight this problem and encourage the community to help us fight the invasion.’

An invasive species is a non-native plant, animal or organism the introduction of which can cause harm to the biodiversity of an ecosystem.

Human actions are the primary means of invasive species introduction to the island.

‘Fisheries and shipping are bringing a lot of the species here, for example a ship will take on bilge water when it leaves somewhere like Japan, then release that bilge water when it arrives, releasing foreign spores and bacteria into our ecosystem,’ said Miss Henney.

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Some of the species which are causing particular issues include the slipper limpet, carpet sea squirt, German ivy, Pampas grass and Asian hornets.

Sour fig, which is a particular issue for Guernsey, produces dense mats which smother native grassland and is very costly and labour intensive to remove.

Although the plant causes problems, some people find it hard to remove.

‘People do dislike the removal of the plant. Even though they have beautiful flowers, it is harmful, it comes at the cost of our nature and wildlife,’ Miss Henney said.

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‘Sour fig was introduced to Guernsey over 100 years ago and in recent years its spread has been rapid.

‘In 2010, it was recorded as covering at least 4.1 hectares across the island.’

Each invasive species comes with a different threat to the local biodiversity, with some causing issues beyond environmental.

‘They can cause a range of issues. If Japanese knotweed is found on a property, you can’t get a mortgage there,’ said Miss Henney.

‘There was a case where someone had to demolish then rebuild their house to remove the plant’s roots.

‘The implications can be really bad.’

Environment Guernsey will launch two new public campaigns during the week, based around specific species.

The public can get involved by reading the information released each day from Friday.

They are then asked to keep vigilant, report sightings and locations of the species, which will help build a picture of the problem on the island and help reduce the spread.

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