Introducing the new Invasive Species Officer at South West Lakes Trust

We are delighted to have welcomed Nicola Morris to our team in the new role of Invasive Species Officer, working in partnership with South West Water.

This role is funded by South West Water, whose unique partnership and close working link with South West Lakes Trust will help ensure that biosecurity measures are effective across our sites.

Non-native species are animals and plants which have been introduced to a new range by people, either accidentally or deliberately.  Most non-native species do not cause any problems; however, a small number of them can spread, causing damage to the environment and the economy. In some cases, they can impact on our health and the way we live. These are called invasive non-native species.

Biosecurity is a term used to describe the methods employed to reduce the risk of introducing or spreading invasive non-native species in the wild. Most people who use the environment for work or recreational activities carry out some form of biosecurity, whether they are aware of the term or not. One of Nicola’s first tasks is to identify the most effective and appropriate biosecurity measures to use at each of South West Lakes Trust’s sites, from signage and training to facilities such as wash down stations and net dips. With so many lakes each hosting varied activities, the needs for each site are different and engagement with their user groups will be key to successful biosecurity.

Kate Hills, Invasive Non-Native Species Ecologist at South West Water, said, “Invasive species such as Japanese knotweed, New Zealand pigmyweed and American signal crayfish are of interest to water companies because they have the potential to cause structural damage to water infrastructure including weirs and treatment works, choke waterways and disrupt native ecosystems. They can also create health and safety issues for maintenance and recreation, particularly at reservoirs.

“Good biosecurity is critical to prevent the introduction of new invasive non-native species or to reduce the spread of existing ones. Nicola, with her considerable experience, is an invaluable addition to the team and she will play a vital role in delivering our ambitious programme to tackle this issue, by highlighting the importance of biosecurity at reservoirs and lakes across our region and working with key recreational users.”

National Invasives Week 2019 begins on 13th May and South West Lakes Trust will be holding events throughout the week. Nicola will be speaking with many of the Trust’s anglers, kayakers and sailors to find out what biosecurity they already use and what they would like to see at the sites. A key aim will be to raise awareness of the issues of invasive species and explain what people can do to help.

Nicola has worked on invasive species projects for nine years, having graduated from the University of Plymouth with a BSc in Applied Zoology and a Research Masters in Biological Sciences. As well as her job with the Trust, Nicola also works as Project Coordinator for CINNG (Community Invasive Non-Native Group), a charity working to bring people and the environment together to improve the health and wellbeing of both. Nicola is the Chair of Cornwall Invasive Species Forum, Chair of Cornwall Reptile and Amphibian Group and a Trustee of Amphibian and Reptile Groups UK.

For more information, call 01566 771930 or email info@swlakestrust.org.uk

All records of invasive non-native species at South West Lakes Trust sites should be sent to Nicola at invasives@swlakestrust.org.uk

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