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Invasive non-native species policy approved to tackle threat to local biodiversity

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Thursday 06 May 2021

With local biodiversity under threat by the introduction and spread of invasive non-native species, the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure has approved a policy to manage emerging invasive non-native species. As part of this, a list of species has been compiled which are not permitted to be imported into Guernsey where natural diversity is threatened.

Invasive non-native species (INNS) pose a threat to Guernsey's environment, economy and public health. They are considered the third greatest threat to biodiversity; challenging the survival of some of Guernsey's rarest species and harming some of our most sensitive ecosystems. They are costly to manage, may damage infrastructure, built structures and commercial crops and impede Guernsey's ability to move and supply drinking water. Finally, they may carry diseases, be venomous or dangerous animals, or cause allergic reactions.

Consequently, INNS are a central focus of the Strategy for Nature, which focuses on preserving nature in the Island, and the Committee has needed to introduce more robust border controls to prevent the importation of species that pose risks locally.

Keeping INNS out of the Bailiwick in the first instance is obviously the most effective approach; the Asian Hornet Strategy is a well-known example of important measures already in place to prevent establishment. Locally the impacts of established INNS are also being realised. For example; areas of designated Sites of Special Significance are being degraded through the spread of sour fig which smothers native plants, the American signal crayfish is impacting the stability of douits, and the removal of Japanese knotweed from land prior to development is costly.

Agriculture, Countryside & Land Management Services (ACLMS) works closely with the third sector to tackle the issue of established INNS. In one project alone last year, almost 15 tonnes of sour fig were removed from Fort Doyle by the States. In the last few years, schools and businesses have also helped out, making a great example of the kind of holistic, co-operative, whole-island approach that can work well across the public, private and third sectors. The Committee would like to thank all who are committing their time to protecting our environment in this way.

At a time when public resources are under such unprecedented pressure, these vital community contributions are more important than ever in their own right, but they also help to demonstrate the need and appetite for sustained public investment in our natural environment - at a time when it too is under unprecedented pressure.

The Committee is encouraged that the States supported greater investment in the Strategy for Nature in the budget for 2021, but ongoing resources will be critical in protecting and restoring our natural environment over the next few years in particular.

The Committee very much hopes that the States will give this vital work the resources it needs to halt and reverse the worrying trends of habitat and species loss in the island, and it will continue to work across the public sector and with the community to maximise that work's effectiveness.

In conjunction with the INNS policy, the general import licence has also been updated; any INNS will no longer be issued with a licence. The policy on INNS and a list of invasive species which cannot be imported to the island can be found here. Anybody looking to import an animal should familiarise themselves with these documents. For the avoidance of doubt, any INNS currently existing as pets may remain for the duration of its life, but the owner should avoid breeding or releasing the animal.

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