A committee of backbench MPs has called for a “citizens’ army” to tackle the growing threat from invasive species. Under the plan, proposed by the Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee, trained volunteers would help identify and respond to biosecurity outbreaks, modelled on a system developed in New Zealand.
A report published by the committee in October argues that urgent action is required to slow the rate of arrival of invasive species and prevent them becoming established. It found that the government has missed its legal targets on tackling invasive species and has failed to give the issue the same priority and funding as the animal and plant health regime.
According to the report, non-native invasive species are one of the main drivers of global biodiversity loss. A recent UN global assessment report on biodiversity concluded that the numbers of invasive species per country have risen by around 70% since 1970, the MPs note. Invasives have contributed to 40% of the animal extinctions that have occurred in the past 400 years, the report adds.