Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS)

Invasive non-native species can spread rapidly and have dramatic effects on biodiversity at both a local and national scale.  It is therefore important to monitor and take action against invasive non-native species, so that we can safeguard our native plants, animals and habitats.

Maintaining Our Biodiversity

The North East is rich in wildlife, with the area being home to a diverse range of natural habitats and species – this also helps make it a brilliant environment for people in which to live and work.

Biodiversity underpins many of our industries such as agriculture, timber, pulp and paper, and horticulture.  As well as being important for nature conservation and the raw materials they supply; habitats and species provide important ‘services’ such as crop pollination, clean water and better flood control.

Loss of variety amongst our native wildlife increases many risks; and not just today, but especially for future generations.

With the advances in technology and our increasing reliance on it, it is easy to forget that nature can, and does, provide more natural solutions to many of society’s problems.  As the variety of species declines, so do future options.

Invasive Species

Invasive species include both plants and animals, and they can have a range of effects on our local wildlife and ecosystems.  Over shading, rapid growth in numbers and the introduction or spread of diseases are just some of the many ways in which non-native species can come to dominate our native ones.

Invasive non-native species frequently show vigorous growth, and as they lack natural predators or controls, they can displace or even eliminate our native ones.

Picture of Japanese Knotweed crowding out native vegetation on a riverbank.

Japanese Knotweed along riverbank © Trevor Renals

Invasive plants such as Japanese knotweed can shade out many native plants and can grow through roads, driveways and even crack concrete walls.

Picture of a man in a protective white suit surrounded by Giant Hogweed which is twice his size.

Giant Hogweed © Tom Richards – Wye and Usk Foundation

Giant Hogweed obstructs riverbanks for walkers and fishermen, and the sap can cause skin blisters and lead to a persistent skin sensitivity in sunlight. Giant hogweed thrives in many places, including “waste” ground, with each plant producing thousands of seeds each year which then disperse widely.

Picture showing an Mink attacking a juvenile Gannet on a sea shore.

Mink attacking juvenile Gannet © John W Anderson

American mink take eggs, chicks and adults of ground nesting birds, and are a major factor in the decline of the native water vole. They also take poultry, game birds and salmon.

Threats and Solutions

The problem of invasive species cannot be tackled without knowledge of where these species currently are.  A number of projects are underway across the North East to tackle the threats posed by invasive species, and these require help from the public – both from volunteering efforts and reports of sightings.

It is essential that invasive control work is maintained and vigilance is required to identify continued spread or new threats.

The Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels Project controls the introduced the North American grey squirrel, which have been behind the vast reduction in numbers of our native Red Squirrel.

Report a squirrel sighting – both red or grey!

The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative (SISI) takes action to control American mink and invasive plants along rivers throughout the majority of Scotland.  This is supported by the work of various River Trusts, the Dee Catchment Partnership and the North East Non-Native Invasive Species Project, with help from local community groups and volunteers who help tackle Giant Hogweed, Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan balsam. For example, the control of Giant Hogweed on the River Deveron using sheep grazing is a great example of an innovative approach to tackle this problem.

Report any sightings of American Mink or invasive plant species.

As the saying goes, “If you see something, say something ®”

Everyone can play their part in helping control invasive species which threaten our local biodiversity in the North East, and any sightings of invasive species should always be reported.  Further information on how to do this, including identification of invasive species, is provided by NatureScot.

As well as reporting information to specific local projects, it is also important to report them to our local Biological Recording Centre, NESBReC.  All these actions help conserve our wonderful wildlife for the future generations.

Photo of a red squirrel climbing the trunk of a Scots Pine

Red Squirrel © Ian Talboys

Alex Stuart

Local Biodiversity Coordinator at NESBiP