Biosecurity for LIFE

Seabirds are the most threatened group of birds globally. Almost 8 million seabirds breed in the UK, many of them relying on islands where there are no invasive mammalian predators.


Biosecurity for LIFE is set up to safeguard the UK’s internationally-important seabird islands. It is well documented that invasive non-native mammalian predators can have serious detrimental impacts on seabird colonies on islands through the predation of eggs, chicks and adult birds.

Whilst mammalian predators are found on the UK mainland, they are not native to most of our offshore islands, making them special havens for breeding seabirds. Preventing these mammals being accidentally introduced to our seabird islands is critical for the protection of our seabird populations, which face multiple pressures at sea where they spend much of their lives.

Biosecurity measures

In 2016, we carried out an audit of the biosecurity measures in place on each of the UKs 41 seabird island special protection areas (SPAs). The results showed that many of our most important seabird islands have no protection against the threat of invasion by non-native mammalian predators.

The Biosecurity for LIFE project will work with communities, businesses, government agencies and conservation NGOs to raise the level of biosecurity protection across all our 41 seabird island SPAs. By working together, we can minimise the likelihood of non-native mammalian predators establishing on these special islands and avoid having to carry out expensive eradication operations.

To help, there are six easy steps you can take when visiting any island:

1. Pack any food on the day you travel.
2. Store food in rodent-proof containers.
3. Check your baggage/hold/bilges for signs of stowaways.
4. Most mammals are good swimmers. If you see a stowaway on board your vessel DO NOT push it overboard and DO NOT land at an offshore island.
5. Report any potential sightings of invasive non-native mammalian predators to the island owner or manager.
6. Take home your rubbish.




1. Improve biosecurity measures across all the UKs 41 seabird island SPAs.
2. Provide training to communities and industry groups on steps they can take to improve biosecurity.
3. Establish rapid incursion hubs across the UK that can respond quickly to a reported incursion on any seabird island.
4. Raise awareness of what biosecurity is, why it matters and what actions individuals can take when visiting any island.

Key Dates

• August 2018: Start of Biosecurity for LIFE
• March/April 2019: Community consultations on inhabited SPA islands
• May 2019: Campaign launch


Work underway includes:

• Connecting with communities, island managers and island owners. Reviewing and updating biosecurity plans.
• Developing our biosecurity campaign ready for launch across the UK in May 2019.
• Developing co-design educational programmes for schools in the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland.

There’s lots more to come – check back soon for updates


National Trust

National Trust for Scotland


The total project cost of €1.35m (£1.1m) is funded by a 60% contribution by the EU LIFE Environmental Governance and Information fund [LIFE 17 GIE/UK/000572], with co-financing provided by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Natural England (NE) and the Northern Ireland Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and contributions from the project partners.

Further reading

For more information see:


Nature 2000

Tagged with: Project status: Ongoing Project types: Site protection