SEPA promotes best practice for managing invasive non-native species

date06 November 2013

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is today (6 November) hosting a one day seminar and workshop event at the Cairndale Hotel in Dumfries for local land managers and public agencies, to raise awareness of the threat posed by non-native species to the Dumfries and Galloway region.

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Invasive non-native species, such as Japanese knotweed and North American mink, are the second biggest threat to our native plants and animals after habitat loss – and have an estimated annual cost of £244 million to the Scottish economy through the damage caused to local infrastructure, leisure and tourism, forestry, horticulture and aquaculture.

In addition to raising awareness of non-native species, the day's workshops are aimed at promoting sustainable and responsible management practices for non native species.

A strong emphasis will be placed on encouraging greater partnership working with over 80 land managers and local councillors attending the event, including delegates from Dumfries and Galloway Council, DG First, Scottish Water, Police Scotland, local Fishery trusts and RSPB. 

A seminar, presented by SEPA's Catchment Management Initiative, on the principles behind tackling invasive non native species will also feature key note speeches from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and local land management organisations on the national and local issues associated with invasive species. Guest speakers also include Swansea County & City Council and Cumbria's Freshwater Invasive Non-Native Species (FINNS) Project.

A series of workshops will complete the day's activities by exploring a range of topics designed to highlight key areas of improvement for Dumfries and Galloway. These will include the effective use of technology in monitoring new and existing species, development of a Regional Rapid Response, and potential use of the national 'Check Clean Dry' campaign to help prevent further spread.

The event's organiser Anne Connick, Planning Officer for SEPA's Catchment Management Initiative, said:

The aim of today is to try and establish a positive framework for partnership working between all relevant local organisations, which will hopefully instill a sense of urgency and responsibility for tackling the spread of invasive non-native species already in areas of Dumfries and Galloway, and those still to arrive. By working together now, we have a much better chance of mitigating against the future risks of invasive species, to protect Scotland's habitats and wildlife, and to help prevent the inevitable problems and costs associated with them."

Stan Whitaker, SNH's expert on invasive non-native species, said:

Invasive non-native species not only cost Scotland a huge amount of money, but they are also harmful to our native wildlife. There are things we can all do to help stop the spread of invasive species - the best way is to prevent them becoming established in the first place. By working together we can reverse the harm caused by some invasive non-native species and prevent them from spreading to new areas."