Bri­tish pub­lic can tackle in­va­sive species

MPs have called for a ‘cit­i­zens’ army’ to be set up to com­bat the threat of non­na­tive species.

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - WILD NEWS -

IN­VA­SIVE SPECIES cost the UK’s econ­omy an es­ti­mated £1.8 bil­lion a year, MPs said in a re­port pub­lished by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Au­dit Com­mit­tee, but spend­ing to tackle them is just £0.9 mil­lion.

They in­clude ev­ery­thing from gi­ant hog­weed to Asian tiger mos­qui­toes, which carry dengue fever.

The­o­ret­i­cally, con­ser­va­tion vol­un­teers could ad­dress the prob­lem with­out in­cur­ring ma­jor costs, but is this re­al­is­tic? The MPs have es­ti­mated that 1.3 mil­lion peo­ple would be re­quired.

Tony Martin, who led the pro­gramme to re­move rats from the is­land of South Ge­or­gia and is a vol­un­teer mink culler in his spare time, says it is fea­si­ble.

“Yes, it’s a great idea – the RSPB alone has this num­ber of mem­bers,” he points out. “The Gov­ern­ment must get real about in­va­sive alien species and make use of these po­ten­tial vol­un­teers.”

The re­port cites New Zealand’s plan to train 150,000 mem­bers of the pub­lic in its fight to erad­i­cate non-na­tive preda­tors such as rats as a po­ten­tial model.

Martin says Bri­tain can learn lessons from New Zealand’s ‘can-do’ at­ti­tude. JF

FIND OUT MORE

Read the re­port sum­mary: bit.ly/340MjGP

WANT TO COM­MENT? Email wildlifele­t­[email protected] im­me­di­ate.co.uk Could in­va­sive mos­qui­toes be wiped out?

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