Tackling invasive alien species, north and south

The National Biodiversity Data Centre and Northern Ireland Environment Agency jointly launch two new invasive species websites during Invasive Species Week 2022.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency are delighted to come together to jointly launch their two new invasive species websites (www.invasives.ie and www.invasivespeciesni.co.uk, respectively), developed to provide information, guidance, and resources on Invasive Alien Species to users across the island of Ireland. The websites have been launched as part of Invasive Species Week 2022 – which runs from 16th to 22nd May and includes a range of online webinars, awareness campaigns and in person events.

Invasive alien species are animals, plants or pathogens that do not naturally occur in Ireland but are here because of human activity. These species are recognised as one of the key drivers of biodiversity loss. Preventing the introduction of new invasive species while also limiting the spread and impacts of those already established is fundamental to protecting our Ireland’s biodiversity.

Both websites are now live – users will find useful resources and information on invasive alien species – those that are present or widely established in Ireland and Northern Ireland already as well as new arrivals (through our alert species) and those we are concerned about arriving here in the near future.

While each website is targeted at their distinct jurisdiction (Ireland and Northern Ireland), they share key features including information on legislation and policy, identification guides for the most common invasive species, guidance on how to manage and address invasive species and ‘Species Alerts’ where users are alerted to the arrival of high-risk invasive species. Other functions of the websites include a ‘Report Sightings’ form where the public and key stakeholders can submit their own suspected sightings of invasive species. This feature is an important mechanism which facilitates early detection of invasive species and rapid response to their presence. The websites also provide links to species maps showing the distribution of invasive alien species in Ireland and Northern Ireland (hosted by National Biodiversity Data Centre and CEDaR/iRecord respectively).

The websites will facilitate information sharing, not just between Ireland and Northern Ireland but across all eight administrations of the British Irish Council (an institution established to provide a forum for consultation and co-operation on key work sectors.

The Council provides an opportunity for information sharing, collaboration, and co-ordination of action on invasive alien species. The National Biodiversity Data Centre and Northern Ireland Environment Agency join government bodies across eight administrations (Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey, and Jersey). This is particularly important for alert species (i.e. those new to a jurisdiction) where once a high-risk invasive species is detected all eight administrations are notified so all parties can implement early detection measures and co-ordinate a rapid response. Invasive Species Week is supported by all eight British Irish Council (BIC) administrations. Council organisation’s are hosting a wide range of events and raising awareness of invasive species and their impacts throughout the week – each day has been assigned a specific theme to co-ordinate awareness raising across different habitat types, species groups and invasive species issues.

The National Biodiversity Data Centre and Northern Ireland Environment Agency will continue to work together closely North and South to address invasive alien species across the island of Ireland. The two websites will replace www.invasivespeciesireland.com which was created under an initiative of the same name ‘Invasive Species Ireland’ that ceased operations in 2013. Information and resources hosted on the website were no longer relevant or out of date. In response to this, over the last year the National Biodiversity Data Centre and Northern Ireland Environment Agency have been developing their own websites to provide the general public and interest groups with information that is up to date and relevant to their jurisdictions.

Speaking about the launch, Invasive Species Officers from the National Biodiversity Data Centre Martina O’Brien, and Colette O’Flynn said:

‘In recognition of the need to provide a centralised portal to information and distribution data on invasive species in Ireland, the National Biodiversity Data Centre are delighted to launch invasives.ie. Considering the shared threats to the island of Ireland from invasive species, we will continue to work closely with the NIEA on information sharing.’

Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) Officer, Rose Muir from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency added that:

“On the first day of Invasive Species Week 2022 it’s fantastic to be able to announce the launch of two new websites to take the place of the former www.invasivespeciesireland – in Northern Ireland www.invasivespeciesni.co.uk and in Ireland www.invasives.ie

As we have two separate databases for recording species (National Biodiversity Data Centre and CEDaR/iRecord) it makes sense to ensure the public know which organisation can make the most immediate use of their records, for example for high-risk rapid response incidents.

The public should also be aware that we still work closely together on a number of invasive species issues. After all invasive species need to be targeted on a complete biogeographical region, they don’t care about different administrations!”