By Marie Dipple, Assistant Ecologist at Kent Wildlife Trust Consultancy Services

In 2019-2020 Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT) Consultancy services undertook work as part of the RAPID (Reducing and Preventing Invasive Non-Native Species Dispersal) LIFE project; a DEFRA funded initiative that aims to raise awareness about and reduce the impact, spread and establishment of invasive species in aquatic environments across England.

RAPID LIFE is a three-year project (2017-2020) piloting innovative approaches to Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS) management in freshwater aquatic, riparian and coastal environments; it is coordinated through the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

The work delivered by KWT Consultancy involved delivering practical and informative workshops; installing appropriate INNS signage in high-risk areas; and providing biosecurity materials to water users and organisations across the South East and London. The purpose of this project was to inform managers and others who oversee events and activities on waterways, of how to improve biosecurity on their sites, and to raise awareness amongst water users through the dissemination of signs and leaflets.

KWT Consultancy reached out to a variety of organisations and individuals involved with the management of coastal or freshwater areas across the South East region. Some of the organisations, groups and individuals who engaged with the project include:

• Estuary & Catchment Partnerships

• Angling clubs

• Kayaking/watersport clubs

• Harbour authorities

• Marinas + ports

• Coastal managers

• Marine conservation groups/NGOs

• Marine Citizen Science volunteers

The workshops were designed to provide attendees with the tools to better manage the threat of Invasive Non-Native Species and to improve biosecurity at their sites; they therefore contained useful information regarding:

• Regionally important INNS (including their impacts and how to identify them)

• Improving site biosecurity

• User-groups’ specific biosecurity actions

• Tools to write an effective biosecurity plan

• INNS reporting

The workshops were well-received by the audiences, with good attendance from a range of backgrounds. We received positive feedback from clients who attended these sessions, including the following comments:

  • ‘Really useful day – flagged a lot of issues that I think it’s important to integrate into my day to day work. I will also be knowledge sharing with colleagues. Really interesting to meet people from different backgrounds.’
  • ‘Great workshop! Very informative and useful for the work my organisation does. Would be excellent if members of my organisation joined other workshops.’
  • ‘Very clear, proportionate and informative presentation. High enlightening and efficient in delivery, achieving effective understanding.’
  • ‘Very good and informative presentation. We learnt a lot and will put it into practice.’
  • An excellent and informative workshop. Excellent, clear delivery from knowledgeable staff and great resources.’
  • ‘Great workshop – inspired me to take some key messages back to work and include ‘Biosecurity’ in our own management plans. (from a harbour board organisation)’

In order to tackle the persistence and spread of Invasive and Non-native species in our waterways, it is essential to engage with a broad range of audiences to target conservation areas and high-risk areas. These workshops provided information on species ID, risks and threats to biodiversity, and economy and health, encouraging faster identification of INNS to help prevent the spread across the South East. Bringing together different approaches and strategies for biosecurity from the range of clients ensured that best practice could be shared, and that awareness of these issues could be circulated within and between organizations across the South East.

For more information about the project or to arrange a bespoke INNS talk with a Conservation Officer, please contact: Alice Morley – alice.morley@kentwildlife.org.uk or Marie Dipple – marie.dipple@kentwildlife.org.uk

ENDS

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“Surrey Wildlife Trust Ecology Services has been working with KWT Consultancy Services for a number of years and together we have successfully delivered contracts in South East England. In our joint mission to create a living landscape KWT Consultancy services provides a proactive, dedicated and pragmatic service

Gabrielle Graham, Managing Director – Surrey Wildlife Trust Ecology Services

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