The accidental or deliberate movement of plants or animals around the world by man has been responsible for the global extinction of many species.
The British countryside hasn't escaped as many species from overseas are now on the rampage creating havoc for wildlife and their habitats. And the news today suggests that our ponds are in the front line of this battle.
Today's launch of the Be Plant Wise campaign, with the support of celebrity gardener Charlie Dimmock, is a welcome start in the control of the non-native pond plants that are choking many wetlands, including several notable RSPB reserves across the UK.
One of the worst offenders is the innocuous-sounding New Zealand pigmyweed, which has escaped from the confines of garden ponds and is now affecting many sites across the UK, altering the environment of wetlands and excluding native plants. Individually, the plants may be pigmies, but en masse these, and other non-native plants, are creating yet another conservation headache we have to deal with while managing over 200 nature reserves for birds and other wildlife.
The main aim of the campaign, which has received widespread press attention, is to urge gardeners to be careful when disposing of these plants or when clearing out ponds.
Here's a letter we have sent to the Daily Telegraph today in response to a query from a correspondent about some strange blue tit behaviour in his garden. You can read the original letter here.
A correspondent to your pages asks why blue tits visiting his garden nest box have undone all his hard work by removing the paper shreddings he has used to line the box.
He shouldn’t take any offence, this is entirely normal behaviour. Blue tits are very tidy and fastidious birds, when they arrive in a box which contains evidence of previous occupation they will give it a spring clean and remove the contents before filling it with their own nesting material.
As well as being tidy, they are also pretty smart. The reason the blue tits carried the unwanted material some distance away and deposited it in a nearby hedge is so they it doesn’t draw predators’ attention to the nest.
If you are putting a nest box out now then there is no need to put anything in it, a house proud garden bird would much rather procure its own furnishings.
RSPB wildlife advisor
Today should mark a turning point in the history of our birds of prey: it is the day that we are all reminded that the illegal killing of birds of prey must stop.
At a ceremony in London, over 200,000 pledges of support, gathered by the RSPB, were handed to Huw Irranca-Davies, the UK Government’s biodiversity minister (left), by the RSPB's Dr Mark Avery (right) to say that in their name no more kites or eagles will die at the hands of merciless and cowardly poisoners and no more sparrowhawks, buzzards or harriers will be blasted, trampled or trapped.
For centuries, entrenched attitudes towards raptors have led to the disappearance of these iconic species from much of Britain and Ireland. Indeed, one third of our 15 nesting species were at one time or another extinct in our isles.
The recovery has begun. White-tailed eagles are returning to Scotland, the osprey is continuing its spread through northern Britain and the marsh harrier is once more a familiar sight over East Anglian wetlands. However, today’s challenge establishes that the recovery must continue to soar without stalling.
The recovery of our red kite population has been a world-leading conservation success. But it’s not complete, and illegal persecution is still hampering this bird’s efforts to recolonise areas where it once cast its shadow.
200,000 is a powerful number: it represents 1,000 pledges of support for every hen harrier nest we should have in England - last year there were fewer than 10 - and it’s 1000 condemnations for every bird of prey persecuted every year in the UK.
We want everyone lacing a poisoned bait, setting a trap, or lying in wait with a shotgun to be aware that many people now believe it’s time for the killing of birds of prey to stop – it begins today.
We thank everyone, including the many organisations, pledging their support for bringing an end to the killing of raptors and we hope and trust that this nesting season birds of prey will have an easier time, whoever is in power.