This EPA funded project led by CERIS, Institute of Technology, Sligo targets the Prevention, Control and Eradication of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) on the Island of Ireland. The research is important as IAS pose considerable problems for our unique ecosystems, human health, ecosystem services and for the Irish economy at an estimated cost of €262 million per annum. This four year project (2016-2020) has partners in Queens University, Belfast and INVAS Biosecurity.
There are four workpackages (WPs) in this project.
WP1: Systematic review and “horizon scan” of invasive alien species issues in Ireland. This will assess the species likely to arrive in Ireland, the impact these ‘door-knockers’ are likely to cause and relevant risk management actions.
Scanning the Horizon for Aliens!
IT Sligo hosted a two day Horizon Scanning workshop for invasive alien species in April 2017. This was an exercise where scientists and policy makers forecasted the most probable new invaders This two day workshop (19th and 20th April) was co-organised by the project team and the National Biodiversity Data Centre (NBDC), and co-funded by the EPA and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).
‘We were assessing the likelihood of arrival and potential impacts of many damaging species that could arrive on the island of Ireland tomorrow!’, according to Eithne Davis, research student and her supervisor Frances Lucy. ‘This is a crucial step in preparation for their arrival, so that we can act swiftly to prevent ecological and economic damage, when they are detected.’ The Top 40 species most likely to arrive in freshwater, land and sea were identified at the workshop. It was attended by 45 experts from environmental agencies, academia and by practitioners from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and England.
The species list has been kept top secret until the competent agencies have had an opportunity to review the resulting publications. The report, including the list of “door-knocker” species is now available.
IT Sligo has been the keystone in bringing experts throughout both jurisdictions and the UK together for the first time, to produce a list that will direct policy on invasive species management on this island. ‘Invasive species are not going to ‘do Brexit’, they have no respect for borders and we need to keep them in check’, according to Frances.
WP2: Biosecurity for Ireland has involved researching the opportunities available to (1) prevent the introduction of new IAS into Ireland (e.g. at ports) (2) reduce secondary spread of existing IAS in Ireland (e.g. inter-waterbody) and (3) deal with localised introductions/outbreaks of IAS before establishment and spread (e.g. localised discovery of IAS followed by eradication).
WP3: Practical Control and Best Practice Guidelines for Two Invasive Species, Winter heliotrope and Asian Clam. For winter heliotrope control, we have been determining the most effective herbicide/adjuvant combination and time of year for application; for Asian clam control, we have been experimenting with novel control/eradication measures (e.g. dry ice pellets). We will also produce best practice guidelines for the long-term control of these invasive species. These principles will then be applied to other IAS of concern.
WP 4: Communications for Prevention, Control and Eradication of IAS will provide efficient and effective stakeholder communication pathway protocols for preventing and managing introduction and spread of invasive species into and within Ireland. The WP will assess current biodiversity/invasive species databases, ‘apps’ and other relevant dissemination tools within Ireland, the EU and globally to meet the needs of early warning and rapid response. We will develop new information and training toolkits for effective communication of invasive species management.
Check out the ‘10 TOP Things you need to know about Invasive Species’ featuring IT Sligo facilities and our alien research.
Eithne Davis of IT Sligo chats to Anya Murray (Eco Eye) about Winter Heliotrope and why it is a problem:
The project is funded by the EPA. The project partners are IT Sligo, Queen’s University Belfast and INVAS Biosecurity.