Great Britain's Non Native Species Information Portal
Invasive non-native species are one of the biggest threats to biodiversity worldwide and the greatest threat to fragile ecosystems such as oceanic islands. Due to increasing global movement of people and goods, they pose a growing problem in the conservation of biodiversity. Recent work in the development of DAISIE – Delivering Alien Species Inventories in Europe - has shown an alarming increase in the number of new non-native species being detected in Europe. This means an ever-increasing negative impact well into the future and we really need to act fast to ensure that this impact is minimised. Government in Great Britain recognised almost 10 years ago that the response to invasive species in Britain was not strategic nor co-ordinated and, following a review of policy in 2003, has been establishing a mechanism for dealing with invasive species since then. Monitoring is clearly a vital part of this package – without up to date information on species detections and range expansions we are literally flying blind when it comes to making informed decisions. The Non Native Species Secretariat launched a Strategy for dealing with non-native species in Great Britain in May 2008 and establishing a comprehensive repository for non-native species data was a critical part of it. The Strategy is available from the NNSS website
The Non-native Species Information Portal was officially launched on May 22 2009 after several years in gestation. The Biological Records Centre leads on the work with the Marine Biological Association and the British Trust for Ornithology also included in the consortium. All of the funding is provided by Defra with initial funding for three years and significant engagement (in terms of timely submission of records) is vital to ensure its utility and continued existence.
The portal aims to:
• draw in and collate verified data on non-native species distributions and interceptions of specimens;
• display these and other species-specific information online; and
• report regularly to the GB Programme Board on changes in status, new threats etc.
The data is stored on the NBN Gateway, but accessed through the GB Non-native Species Secretariat’s website using web services. Over the three years of the project, 300 species fact sheets will be developed for the portal. Each fact sheet will have details on the species ecology, introduction pathways, management, relevant legislation etc. Fact sheets will also link to the relevant species risk assessment, the ID sheet and photographs/video of the species in the photo library, and detail who is carrying out research and management on each species - all on the Secretariat website.
The consortium will collate in one place not only data from existing biological recording schemes, but will also gather data on interceptions from a wide range of government agencies.
It will also eventually, include an element of recording by the general public when the Recording Invasive Species Counts project launches on 22nd March.