Invasive species: ‘Biosecurity actions needed’

While there isn’t specific data or targeted information on invasive species on farmland, a few issues arise and biosecurity actions are needed, according to Colette O’Flynn, invasive species officer at the National Biodiversity Data Centre in Waterford.

“Some of Ireland’s most invasive plants are found along riparian areas. Their dense growth in the summer can make access to the water difficult.

“When the plants die-back in winter and the native plants no longer exists there, the exposed river banks are more susceptible to erosion. Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and Giant hogweed are most commonly found in these areas,” she said.

“Giant hogweed has a phytoxic sap that when it touches skin in the presence of sunlight, it can cause anything from a mild irritation to third degree burns and can leave scarring and recurring irritation for many years after,” Colette said.

“Many invasive species and pathogens are easily transferred in and between waterbodies. The movement of equipment, vehicles etc in and between waterbodies can cause them to spread. This often happens unknowingly,” Colette said.

Biosecurity – prevention of spread – actions are needed by all to help prevent introductions and spread. The ‘Check, Clean, Dry – and/or – Disinfect’ campaign in the UK and Ireland is targeted to help in preventing this spread.

“Anyone or anything that moves between watercourses could be a vector for spread. The crayfish plague in Ireland is wiping out hundreds of thousands of the native protected white-clawed crayfish in Ireland.

“Biosecurity actions by all – ‘Check, Clean, Dry, Disinfect’ are the only way to help stem this devastating plague,” Colette said.

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