British public can tackle invasive species
MPs have called for a ‘citizens’ army’ to be set up to combat the threat of nonnative species.
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
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Read the report summary: bit.ly/340MjGP
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