We have some incredibly wildlife-rich wetlands in Sussex, however many are heavily impacted by human activities. This includes the accidental and deliberate introduction and spread of non native invasive species (NNIS). These species have often been bought in Garden Centres or accidentally transported on machinery, and some of them are having a devastating impact on public access, farming, wildlife, flooding and the economy.
Often people innocently transfer their garden pond plants into a wild pond, thinking they are doing something good for wildlife, when actually they are introducing an invasive, non native plant. Invasive plants are a big problem now in Sussex wetlands, and they are having huge negative effects on native wetland species. The landscape scale of the infestations makes it increasingly difficult to remove them.
If you have a pond or an area of wetland on your land, there here are a number of non-native invasive species to look out for, and to remove as soon as possible :-
- Giant hogweed
- Himalayan balsam
- Japanese knotweed
- Australian / New Zealand swamp stonecrop
- Parrots feather
- Water fern
- Skunk cabbage
- Floating pennywort
Rhododendron and Canadian pondweed can also negatively impact your wetland or pond. You can find out more information about UK Non Native Invasive Species and how to deal with them here.
In 2014 five species of aquatic invasive plant were banned from sale under the Wildlife and Countryside Act because of their negative effects on the environment and economy:
• Floating water primrose (Ludwigia grandiflora, uruguayensis and peploides)
• Floating pennywort (Hydrocotyle ranunculoides)
• Parrots feather (Myriophyllum aquaticum)
• Australian swamp stone-crop (Crassula helmsii)
• Water fern (Azolla filiculoides)
This is great news, although some might say shutting the stable after the horse has bolted!
To help stop the spread of non native invasive species, if you are an angler, canoeist, contractor or just someone who like messing around on rivers, then please follow the Check, Clean, Dry campaign rules.
American Mink (Neovison vison)
The American mink is a semi aquatic species of mustelid which is native to North America. It first became established in the UK in the 1950's when animals escaped or were released from fur farms. American mink have adapted well to the UK and are common and widespread throughout Sussex. They are one of the few animals which can follow native wetland species such as the kingfisher and the water vole into their burrows and nests, and in tandem with habitat destruction they have often had a devastating impact on populations of these species.
The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust have created a floating raft which enables the efficient monitoring and trapping of mink. Once trapped, it is illegal to release a mink as it is a non-native species.