The problem of Invasive Species
The proliferation of non-native plants and animals in an uncontrolled and manner is presenting an escalating problem. Such foreign species can quickly establish a dominant position to the detriment of long established native species. Habitats include not only landscaped areas but also rivers, canals and lakes. Landscapers, gardners, horticulturists, anglers and the general public can all help to address this problem.
Quoting from the Control of Aquatic Invasive Species in Ireland website:
Ireland is home to more than a 100 alien animals and plants – and with the number rising there is currently no legislation to stop anyone importing such species.
To most people these alien species can look relatively innocent, even pretty, but their environmental and economic impact can be enormous. Worldwide, the estimated impact of invasive species is $1.4 trillion per year. That figure equates to 5% of the entire global economy!
Huge damage is already being done to Ireland's inland waterways by the likes of the South African Pondweed (Lagarosiphon major) and the Zebra Mussel (Dreissena polymorpha).
Parts of Lough Corrib are now so choked by densely growing Lagarosiphon that swans can walk across it without getting their feet wet! Meanwhile, populations of the Zebra mussel – a native of the Caspian Sea – are increasing in midland lakes and rivers where it poses a potentially serious threat to pipes and turbines at electricity generating stations.
The latest alien species to arrive in Ireland is the Asian Clam (Corbicula flumina).
It has set up home in the River Barrow, and is sure to spread further afield. In the USA this tiny shellfish alone is causing up to $1bn damage every year.
Alien species threaten to disrupt the natural biodiversity of Irish waters by competing with the long-established native species – out-competing them for food and space – and eventually, killing them off altogether.
A €1.5m EU-funded programme has been launched to introduce eradication and control methods in Lough Corrib, the Grand Canal and in the Barrow Navigation Line.
For more information about invasive species see the CAISIE Programme website (www.caisie.ie).