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Defra to ban some invasive species

UK - A new attempt is to be made to protect native British wildlife from predatory foreign invaders.

Invasive exotic plants and animals pose the second greatest threat to wildlife worldwide after habitat destruction. They can spread disease, out compete and even eat native flora and fauna.

Now the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says it is ready to ban the sale of some of the worst culprits who pose the biggest threat to native species if they escape into the wild.
These include the American Bullfrog, a number of Crayfish species, Floating Pennywort and the Water Hyacinth.

Invasive species can cause massive problems for our native plants and animals and costs the British economy an estimated £2bn per year. And once established the invaders can cost millions of pounds to put right. And experts warn the costs will escalate in the future as more and more problem species become established and spread. At the latest count there were 2,721 non-native species in England of which 1,798 (66 per cent) were plants.

A native crayfish (left) and a North American signal crayfish

Launching a joint consultation aimed at strengthening protection for native species Defra and the Welsh Assembly government said:

"Non-native species that become invasive are considered the second greatest threat to wildlife worldwide after habitat destruction. Their impacts can be far reaching - they have adverse impacts on native wildlife by predation, competition and spread of disease.

"They can threaten economic interests such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries and development. Controlling the release of invasive non-native species into the wild is a key element of conserving our native wildlife.

More than 70 species will be added to the list of non-native birds, fish, animals and plants under schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Some of the species have been added because of their potential to cause damage if they were to become widespread.

They can also have serious economic effects on interests such as forestry, agriculture and fisheries. An example is the non-native crayfish in salmon fisheries where it eats the salmon eggs and fry.

Joan Ruddock, Minister for Climate Change and Biodiversity, said: "Invasive non-native species pose a very serious threat to our native plants, animals and the local environments they live in, costing the British economy around £2billion per year. The threat is greater than ever with climate change. It is vital that we do all we can to prevent these species from establishing in the wild."

Source: The Telegraph