Globalisation is not a term saved solely for anthropomorphic purposes. The movement of people across geographic and political boundaries generally finds a whole army of different hitch-hikers coming with it. From tiny crustaceans in ballast water, to beautiful birds released from cages. From introductions of amphibians to suppress insect pests, all the way to seeds hitching a ride on the socks of hikers, many species are expanding their ranges across the globe with a little help from humans.
These species are able to adapt and quickly make the most of their new ecosystems. Often this means complete annihilation of native species; the simplification of diverse communities into dense monocultures of invasive species. While we can fight back against these species with technology and obstinacy - sometimes it pays to play it simple, by picking up the ol' fork and knife. By eating invasive species, we can knock back detrimental populations, and enjoy a solid feed. Anyone for a Japanese Knotweed + Grey Squirrel stew?
What to do about invasive species, which are having a growing and generally detrimental effect on Europe’s environment and economies, is the subject of discussion in both the European Parliament and UK Parliament this week. Invasive alien species are animals and plants introduced accidentally (or deliberately) into an environment where they are not normally found. Although estimates indicate that there are some 12,000 alien species in Europe, only 10-15% have become invasive, that is, have become damaging and of concern. However, just these 10-15% cost Europe €12 billion a year. So while the European Union has put in place its 2020 biodiversity strategy, it has not yet managed to provide a comprehensive framework to address this threat to European biodiversity.