What can I do?
We can all play a role in helping to tackle the threat of invasive species to the benefit of our native wildlife. This can be done in a variety of ways including:
- becoming familiar with Ireland’s invasive species and their identification features
- report sightings of invasive species through the Biodiversity Data Capture app or this online recording form
- see if your local community or club could get involved in some invasive plant control; check out the control and management resources
- make an individual or club/group commitment to undertake more biosecurity actions
- choose native or non-invasive species plants as alternatives for your garden or landscaping
- help raise awareness of the issues of invasive species, Invasive Species Week happens annually!, or
- support surveys and research.
Prevention is better than cure!
As with most things, prevention is better than cure and when dealing with invasive species this is certainly the case. The invasion curve shows that eradication of an invasive species becomes less likely and control costs increase as an invasive species spreads over time. Prevention is the most cost-effective solution, followed by eradication. If a species is not detected and removed early, intense and long-term control efforts will be unavoidable.
Actions required to tackle the threat from invasive species depend on what stage of invasion the species is at and roughly fall into four stages: prevention, early detection and rapid response, eradication, containment or long-term management.
If we can prevent potential invaders getting to Ireland to begin with then we don’t have them as a problem. Prevent activities include regulations to ban or restrict intentional introduction to Ireland or keeping of species in captivity in Ireland. This includes trade, customs and personal responsibility.
Biosecurity actions are required to prevent unintentional introduction into Ireland and spread within Ireland of those species already here. For more information see the Check Clean Dry, Be Pet Wise and the Be Plant Wise biosecurity campaigns.
Early detection and rapid response
If alien species do arrive into Ireland and the wild, we need to detect them as soon as possible so rapid response action can be taken to remove/eradicate them from the wild before they get the opportunity to establish reproducing populations and spread.
If they have gone undetected to the point of establishing populations and spreading, then eradication may be much more challenging or not technically possible, unfeasible or too harmful to nature to attempt.
For some species that are at imminent risk of being introduced to the wild and becoming invasive, then establishing dedicated sentinel surveillance systems is an important step to help detect them. For example, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine are engaging with bee keepers to watch out for Asian hornets (Vespa velutina) at key hotspot points of possible entry in Ireland.
Containment or long-term control management
Failing eradication, containing the established population from spreading is vital however this may be very difficult to do. If containment is not possible, we are left with facing into long-term control management which can be very resource intensive.