Press Release NI

Embargoed for: [08 March 2012 / 09.00]
Attwood launches ‘Be Plant Wise’ campaign to tackle invasive aquatic plants
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John Early from NIEA with Environment Minister Alex Attwood
Photograph of John Early (Northern Ireland
Environment Agency) with Environment
Minister Alex Attwood launching the
Be Plant Wise campaign in Northern Ireland.

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Environment Minister Alex Attwood today launched ‘Be Plant Wise’, a campaign to urge all gardeners to help stop the spread of invasive aquatic plants.

Plants such as floating pennywort, Nuttall’s pondweed, curly waterweed, fringed waterlily and New Zealand pigmyweed have all caused problems in Northern Ireland.

The ‘Be Plant Wise’ campaign aims to highlight the problems caused when invasive aquatic species are released into the wild. It is designed to raise awareness amongst gardeners, pond owners and retailers of the damage caused by invasive aquatic plants and to encourage the public to dispose of these plants carefully to protect our environment by not allowing them to escape into the wild.

Encouraging gardeners to be careful Minister Attwood said: “Invasive aquatic plants have the potential to cause huge problems to our waterways, damage habitats, out-compete native species and harm wildlife. Excessive growth can also lead to problems for recreational activities such as fishing and boating which can impact on our enjoyment and use of such places.

“By being responsible gardeners, we can all help to protect our waterways and wildlife as well as helping to reduce the growing costs of dealing with these plants. If such species continue to grow at their current rate and we do not take action to inhibit their growth, the cost of clearing them could run into millions of pounds.

“My message to gardeners is: ‘Be Plant Wise’ when buying plants for your garden pond and when maintaining them.”

Further information on how to ‘Be Plant Wise’ can be found on the Invasive Species Ireland website at http://www.invasivespeciesireland.com

Notes to editors:

  1. Species that have been introduced to a place where they do not naturally occur are known as ‘non-native species’. Many of these species live happily in the UK and Ireland without causing problems but a few become what are called ‘invasive species’.
  2. Whilst the majority of introduced species pose neither economic nor ecological problems, a few species become invasive and damaging to their new habitat.
  3. The Wildlife Order (NI) 1985 (as amended) Article 15 makes it an offence for any person to release a range of aquatic plants into the wild.
  4. The report ‘The Economic Cost of Invasive Non-native Species on Great Britain’ which was published in November 2010 estimated the total annual cost of floating pennywort alone to Britain’s economy as £25,467,000.
  5. The cost of eradicating floating pennywort from a mill race at Dunadry, Co. Antrim has been estimated as £30,000.
  6. All media enquiries should be directed to the DOE Press Office on 028 90256 058. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.