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Non-native species

Non-native species are those that have been introduced, deliberately or accidentally, by humans. Invasive non-native species damage our environment, the economy, our health and the way we live.

How are we tackling non-native species issues?

The vast majority of non-native species introduced to Great Britain over the millennia have caused no significant harm.  However, given suitable conditions, some non-native species can become invasive causing harm to our native biodiversity and the economy.  The Invasive Non-Native Species Framework Strategy for Great Britain provides a co-ordinated and structured approach to dealing with non-native species. Its overall aim is to minimise the risk posed, and reduce the negative impacts caused by invasive non-native species in Great Britain. The Economic Cost of Invasive Non-Native Species to the British Economy indicates the economic cost of invasive non-native species can be wide ranging and invasive species cost the British economy £1.7 billion every year.

Non-native species Secretariat

The Non-native Species Secretariat (NNSS) is the focal point for implementation of the Great Britain Strategy and through its various functions, supports the Great Britain Programme Board, partner organisations and other individual stakeholder bodies in this regard.

Key facts and figures

The NNSS website provides further information about invasive non-native species.

Relevant legislation

  • The key legislation controlling the release (and escape) of non-native species in Britain is section 14 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981.

Section 14: Introduction of new species

Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person releases or allows to escape into the wild any animal which:

  • is of a kind which is not ordinarily resident in and is not a regular visitor to Britain in a wild state; or
  • is included in Part I of Schedule 9, he shall be guilty of an offence.

Subject to the provisions of this Part, if any person plants or otherwise causes to grow in the wild any plant which is included in Part II of Schedule 9, he shall be guilty of an offence.

Page last modified: 4 March 2011

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