German Nightmare wasp
More than a million volunteers are needed to keep Britain safe from invading bugs and plants, MPs say.
They will be trained to spot unwanted invaders before they can gain a foothold on nature.
It’s believed nearly 50 new Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) will be established in the UK in the next 20 years.
Invaders like the Asian Hornet, or plants such as Hogweed, upset the natural balance of the country’s flora and fauna.
A report by the Environmental Audit Committee said, “the future of our natural landscape at risk”.
Committee chair Mary Creagh MP said:
“INNS is one of the UK’s top five threats to the natural environment.
“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.
“Oak processionary moth caterpillars can strip an oak tree bare as well as posing a hazard to our own health.
“We face losing half of the UK’s native ash trees to ash dieback within a century, costing £15bn.
“New regulations to halt their progress are welcome but they are too little, too late.
“Government funding to tackle invasive species is tiny and fails to match the scale of the threat.”
The committee has called for 1.3 million people to be taught how to spot “outbreaks” of invasive species.
And, it wants a dedicated agency to be established by 2020 to improve biosecurity at UK borders.
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said:
“Invasive non-native species not only challenge the survival of some of our rarest species but damage our natural ecosystems as well as costing the economy more than £1.7 billion per year.
“We are committed to being leaders in tackling invasive species, and our 25-year Environment Plan commits us to enhancing the biosecurity of the country even further.
“We welcome the EAC’s report and will now carefully consider its findings and recommendations.”