The problem of invasive species has grown so pervasive in the UK that national and local authorities are no longer able to deal with the problem on their own, according to a new report by a number of MPs from across the political spectrum, summarized in the Guardian. The solution? A “citizen army” of vigilant biological wardens, trained to identify and eliminate harmful species from outside the British isles.
- The parliamentary audit committee estimates the current cost of invasive species in the UK at £1.8 billion per year, including damage to agriculture and ecosystems.
- One particularly egregious example is the mass die-off of British ash trees caused by a non-native fungus (pictured), which is projected to kill around half the total ash population, costing around £15 billion of damage to native forests and forestry over the next century. Also in the crosshairs: the signal crayfish, a North American import which is spreading “crayfish plague.”
- The parliamentary committee calls for the creation of a volunteer army of 1.3 million wardens to battle invasive species, modeled on a successful scheme in New Zealand.
- Labour’s Mary Creagh, the chair of the committee, stated: “If we’re to beat this, we need people power, with an army of volunteers trained to spot and stop an invasive species before it becomes established.”