My Department is responsible for the implementation of the Wildlife Acts and the European Communities (Birds and Natural Habitats) Regulations 2011 (S.I. No. 477/2011), both of which prohibit the spreading of invasive species. Work is also underway in my Department to implement the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation (No. 1143/2014) in the national context and legislation to do this is at an advanced draft stage.
Under the current legislative framework, responsibility for invasive alien species rests, in the first instance, with landowners. There is significant work, however, being carried out at present by a range of agencies in this area, including a number of local authorities. In addition, the Management of Invasive Alien Plant Species (IAPS), launched in 2016 and led by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, is a €5.5 million project aimed at managing invasive knotweed and other non-native invasive plant species on the national road network and its interactions with regional roads. The project involves collaboration with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS).
Eradication of invasive alien species, once they become established, is usually difficult to achieve and resources are best used to promote awareness, prevent introduction of invasive alien species and, where a species has established itself, put in place effective and appropriate management measures to mitigate the effects of the species on native habitats and species.
Raising awareness of invasive alien species and the threat that they pose to native biodiversity is an important component of my Department's work in this area. In 2018, a new stream of grant funding for local authorities was piloted. This funding is to assist local authorities to support projects that tie in with actions contained in the National Biodiversity Action Plan, including those that target invasive alien species in their area. I have increased significantly the funding available for this grant scheme in 2019 and details of grants awarded will be notified to applicants in the coming weeks.
My Department also supports, through funding provided by the Heritage Council, an Invasive Species Officer post in the National Biodiversity Data Centre. This post provides expert support to the work carried out by my Department's National Parks and Wildlife Service by, inter alia, gathering, collating and publishing data on incidences of invasive alien species across the country; collating data on work by public bodies and communities on control of invasive species; raising awareness of the threats posed by invasive alien species in general; and targeted awareness in response to specific invasive alien species issues. The NBDC Invasive Species Officer also participates in a joint Invasive Species Week initiative each year with authorities in the UK which aims to raise awareness of invasive species issues of common concern in these islands, particularly those that have a North-South dimension.