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Invasive species can lower house prices and increase water bills

Sometimes it can be hard to see how 'environmental issues' affect our day to day lives. They can be tricky to relate to and understand, making it difficult for you to care about them. So, you may be amazed to find out that having the invasive non-native species Japanese Knotweed, a fairly well known culprit, in your garden can actually affect the value of your house and could impede the sale of your property

February 2016

These tenacious plants can have a large network of roots that can mean they spread into neighbouring land, may affect drainage systems, and in extreme cases damage buildings. Oh, and if Japanese Knotweed spreads from your garden to your neighbour’s, you are liable for the roots. That’s one of the reasons why wildlife NGOs are calling on the Government to do more to combat Invasive species.

We welcome Invasive Species Week (29 Feb – 4 March 2016) which is dedicated to raising awareness of the many environmental, economic and even health problems that invasive non-native species can cause. This is the second year Invasive Species Week is running and this year it is not only supported by the power of social media but there will also be events
all across England (and Wales and Scotland too) to showcase why and how we need tackle invasive non native species.

Did you know that invasive species could even have an impact by increasing your water bill? The less well known invasive non native quagga mussel for example is so prolific, with a mature adult producing one million eggs in a season, it can quickly clog up a waterway or pipe. Having dense concentrations of one species can never be a good thing and they quickly pollute the water. This in turn means more will need to be spent on cleaning water so it is up to drinking quality standards. The higher costs would be reflected in both water bills and also in our tax bill.

Not intending to be all doom and gloom, I do want to let you know that we (wildlife NGOs) are working with Government, and agencies such as Natural England and the Environment Agency as well as with other stakeholders to tackle invasive non-native species. During Invasive Species Week, we are calling on the Government in England to work with devolved administrations to develop a list of invasive alien species of UK-wide concern as set out in the EU IAS Regulation. While we obviously need to prevent these species coming into the country in the first place, the policies and legislation do already exist and we just need to make sure they are properly implemented. There is also a lot we can do to help stop the spread of species around the country.

For example, Invasive Species Week this year is focusing on the 5th birthday of Check Clean Dry - an important campaign that reminds all water users to “check, clean, dry” their equipment to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive non-native species. It is equally important to ensure we do not let our pets, and indeed garden plants, escape into the wild. Be Plant Wise is a campaign to prevent the spread of aquatic horticultural species into the wild but the principle of preventing the spread of horticultural species into the wild is equally important for terrestrial varieties too.

Other ways you can help could be to get involved with your Local Action Group that works to tackle invasives species 'on the ground'. If there isn't a group in existence in your area perhaps you can think about setting one up? Of course, another important option is to support the invaluable work wildlife NGOs carry out by becoming a member or otherwise supporting wildlife.

There are lots of events taking place over the next week and if you want to find out more then follow this link

Camilla Keane

Chair of Link’s Invasive Non-Native Species Group

Policy Officer Plantlife

Find me on Twitter at @CamillaKeane

The opinions expressed in this blog are the author’s and not necessarily those of the wider Link membership