Invasive weeds: Guidance for the control of invasive weeds in or near fresh water

Existing legislation

When non-native species become invasive they can transform ecosystems, causing a variety of problems including seriously threatening native and endangered species. These problems are acknowledged in several international treaties, European Union Directives and also in domestic legislation. The problems caused by some invasive non-native  species occur worldwide, and international obligations to address them are placed on the United Kingdom through regional and global agreements. These include the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), the Bern Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats, and the EC Habitats and Species Directive. The sixth CBD conference adopted a series of Guiding Principles for States to follow as part of their invasive nonnative species policies.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provides the primary controls on the release of non-native species into the wild in Great Britain. It is an offence under section 14(2) of the Act to plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild any plant listed in Schedule 9, Part II. The only flowering plants currently listed in Schedule 9 are Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed. However, Japanese knotweed in particular has continued to spread and has nearly doubled its distribution in the past 20 years.

Stricter enforcement provisions for wildlife offences were introduced under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. These include increased penalties available to the courts for offences committed under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

The Weeds Act 1959 provides for the control of five specified weeds. These are non aquatic species, though ragwort, (Senecio jacobaea), can grow in riparian areas. This legislation is directed at clearing weeds that threaten agricultural production.

Other legislation relevant to non-native species control includes:

The Government has acknowledged the problems that can be caused by nonnative invasive species. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has undertaken a review of non-native species policy. The Review working group report to Government published in March 2003 sets out a series of recommendations that took account of the guiding principles established by the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Government response to this report will determine future policies and actions.

ADLib logo Content provided by the Agricultural Document Library
© University of Hertfordshire, 2011