Invasive species banned in battle to protect UK wildlife


You may not have realised, but they are out there: the monk parakeet, the rosy-faced lovebird, the three-cornered garlic and the hottentot fig. But now the Government is saying, enough.

More than 70 types of foreign birds, mammals, reptiles and plants which have established breeding populations in Britain in recent years are to be outlawed to protect the environment.

In future (if the proposals are accepted after a consultation beginning today), it will be an offence to release these creatures into the wild, except under licence – even though populations of them may be flourishing by your back door.

It will come as a surprise that some are here at all. Although residents of the South-east are increasingly familiar with the rose-ringed parakeet, now breeding in their thousands in Surrey and south London, how many people know that we have several other parrot species breeding or attempting to breed in the wild here, such as the monk and blue-crowned parakeets from South America?

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act it has long been an offence to release into the wild any animal or plant which is not a resident or regular visitor to the UK. But under a special schedule of the Act it is also an offence to release certain non-native species which are already established in Britain and considered harmful.

The Government is proposing to add 74 new species to this list. They range from the wild boar and the eagle owl, to the topmouth gudgeon (a small fish) and New Zealand pygmyweed.

Plants, in fact, make up more than half the list – the three-cornered garlic has escaped from cultivation, and the hottentot fig from gardens, and both are threatening native plants.

"Non-native species that become invasive are considered the second greatest threat to wildlife worldwide after habitat destruction," the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said yesterday. "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."

The consultation is also looking at banning the sale of some non-native species considered to be strongly invasive and which present a real risk of escape. These include the American bullfrog, a number of crayfish species, floating pennywort and the water hyacinth.

Damage by such species is thought to amount to £2bn a year, the Wildlife minister, Joan Ruddock, said yesterday. "The threat is greater than ever with climate change," she said. "It is vital we do all we can to prevent these species from establishing in the wild."

The costs of trying to eradicate rhododendron from Snowdonia National Park have been in the region of £45m, and the cost of eradicating Japanese knotweed has been estimated at £1.56bn.

One bit of cheerful news: several species are being removed from the list, as the breeding populations that once occurred have died out. They include the Mongolian gerbil, the coypu (a giant aquatic version of the guinea pig) and the Himalayan porcupine (which was breeding in Devon).

So if being attacked by porcupines in a dark lane in Devon was one of your fears, you can rest easy again.

Alien intruders

Wild boar Sus scrofa

Became extinct here in the 17th century but has been re-established. Causes crop damage. Potential danger to the public.

Monk parakeet Myiopsitta monachus

This South American species is an agricultural pest in continental Europe. There is at least one colony here.

Rosy-faced lovebird Agapornis roseicollis

A fruit pest abroad and, after releases in Britain, it is thought they are breeding in the wild.

Eagle owl Bubo bubo

A large predator of birds and mammals with the potential to have an adverse affect on many of our native species.

Topmouth gudgeon Pseudorasbora parva

Feeds on eggs and larvae of other fish as well as damaging ecosystems.

Grass carp Ctenopharyngodon idella

Introduced specimens of this fish feed on aquatic plants and are damaging freshwater ecosystems.

Three-cornered garlic Allium triquetrum

Was introduced in cultivation but is increasing in abundance and range. Causes damage by direct competition with natives.

Hottentot fig Carpobrotus edulis

was introduced as a garden plant. It causes damage by competing with native species.

New Zealand pygmyweed Crassula helmsii

This species is another that directly competes with native species.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?