Volunteer Training Day; Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS)
Volunteer training day; Invasive non Native Species (INNS)
On 19th March 2014 a training event was held for volunteers at the Welsh Wildlife Centre in Cilgerran. Organised by Pembrokeshire and Teifi Rivers Trusts the day centred on recognition and reporting of Invasive Non Native Species and was made possible by funding from the Wales Biodiversity Partnership. Speakers were Colin Russell from the West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre, Ant Rogers, Pembrokeshire Biodiversity Partnership’s Biodiversity Implementation Officer, and Gill Wislocka of Cymdeithas Llandudoch. 28 people representing 10 organisations attended on the day which was concluded with a tour of the Reserve led by Reserve Ranger Howard Jones.
Colin Russell outlined the role of the Biodiversity Information Centre which covers the counties of Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and most of Carmarthenshire and is one of four Local Records Centres which together serve as a biodiversity data storage and management facility for the whole of Wales. Each LRC is a not-for profit service run in partnership for the public benefit, which collects, collates, manages and disseminates information of known quality relating to the wildlife, wildlife sites and habitats for a defined geographic area. The core service of the LRC is to provide reports of protected species, habitats and sites for a given location and much of its work is spent reporting on planning applications, on future large scale developments, and on engineering maintenance sites to ensure that allowed activities do not impact illegally or unnecessarily on vulnerable wildlife.
Colin encouraged everyone to pass on wildlife sightings to the Information Centre to help build a comprehensive picture of the wildlife in the three counties. This is easily done by providing details of who is recording the sighting, what is seen, when was the sighting made and where the sighting occurred – the whole process can be simply done by following the link on the website for West Wales Biodiversity Information Centre (www.wwbic.org.uk/sendusarecording.asp).
Ant Rogers provided the main session which defined Non Native Species –plants and animals which are outside their natural range in the UK. Not all non-native species represent a threat but invasive non-native species are any non-native animal or plant that has the ability to spread causing damage to the environment, the economy, our health or the way we live. Ant provided details of a range of INNS and how to recognise them and pointed to the work of the GB Non Native Secretariat which through its website (www.nonnativespecies.org) provides access to distribution data for over 3000 non-native species in GB as well as additional information such as place or origin, date of introduction and methods of introduction. For 300 species much more detailed information is provided, including information on identification, impacts and control methods.
The need to record wildlife sightings was again emphasised, as was the need to report practical biodiversity conservation actions on the UK Biodiversity Action Recording System (http://ukbars.defra.gov.uk). BARS is a web based information system to support the conservation community which helps identify where practical action is in place to benefit important habitats and species and offers an efficient way for volunteers to contribute information about their own biodiversity actions. Having information recorded on the UK BARS system is considered an important element influencing the future direction of conservation actions including the allocation of funding to assist wildlife species and deal with such issues as INNS. Attention was drawn to the new Species Action Plan for INNS produced by the Pembrokeshire Biodiversity Partnership in order to promote a strategic approach to tackling INNS in the County.
Gill Wislocka of Cymdeithas Llandudoch (St Dogmaels Community Association) concluded the morning session with a lively presentation about the work of the Association in co-ordinating local community efforts to tackle invasive species such as Himalayan balsam and Japanese knotweed. Gill spoke about the important elements needed to engage communities, co-ordinate volunteers and the importance of adopting a flexible, comprehensive and organised approach required to take on invasive species. Through experience gained over the years Gill was able to pass on much good advice and show that it is possible to bring people together to tackle such a big issue as dealing with invasive species. For more information contact Gill on firstname.lastname@example.org
The day was rounded off with a guided tour of the reserve by Reserve Ranger Howard Jones which took in some of the different habitats within the flagship Teifi Marshes Reserve.
The day was important in highlighting the threat posed by Invasive Non Native Species and emphasised that an organised and strategic approach is necessary to combat them. The part individuals and organisations can play in recording species and working in partnership to tackle them will be an important element to control and eradicate them in the future in order to protect and preserve the continued presence of the rich diversity of indigenous species in the years to come.