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To: The Government

Stop importing invasive species!

The government should ban the imports of soil and potted plants containing soil to stop the spread of invasive non-native species that threaten native wildlife and damage agriculture.

Why is this important?

Invasive non-native species are one of the biggest threats to biodiversity.

Now, one of the world's most invasive species, the Red Imported Fire Ant (Solenopsis invicta) has arrived in Europe and scientists estimate it's only a matter of time before it is devastating native fauna and causing loss and costs to agriculture.

The UK remains one of the last island nations to import soils and potted plants containing soils. In doing so, it is importing an increased risk. Asian Hornets, Fire Ants, terrestrial flatworms, slugs and snails are all species found in potted plants and soils. Their small size and ability to bury in to the soil means that they arrive unseen, even if the plant itself is checked. The only conceivable way to ensure species are not being readily imported is to reciprocate action seen elsewhere and ban the imports of soil and plants containing soil.




2023-09-28 21:51:51 +0100

5,000 signatures reached

2023-09-25 14:14:41 +0100

1,000 signatures reached

2023-09-25 13:28:49 +0100

500 signatures reached

2023-09-21 07:20:44 +0100

100 signatures reached

2023-09-16 22:37:07 +0100

50 signatures reached

2023-09-15 19:57:29 +0100

25 signatures reached

2023-09-15 14:16:11 +0100

10 signatures reached

2023-09-14 14:17:09 +0100

The estimated annual cost to the UK economy caused by INNS is £ 4 billion. Preventing a species from being introduced and established is more cost-efficient than attempting to manage or eradicate a species once it arrives. Once established, INNS are nearly impossible to eradicate, and the costs associated with management are cumulative. An import ban on soils and growing media will decrease the costs associated with surveillance and detection while also reducing the burden on inspectors at borders.

2023-09-14 14:17:01 +0100

The Government's lack of action in response to increased biosecurity threats is risking its ability to meet binding targets to halt and restore biodiversity. Closing the horticultural hitchhiking pathway by only importing bare-rooted plants will decrease the chance of some of the world's most invasive species entering the country. Banning soil and growing media imports will bring wider benefits for people and nature, including a reduction in peat extraction, an economic boost for UK growing industries, and ultimately stronger biosecurity through reduced reliance on imported goods. Following Brexit the European Union treats the UK as a third country for regulatory purposes, and therefore does not allow soils to be imported with plant materials; these requirements should be reciprocated by the UK to prevent species present in Europe from harming native wildlife.

2023-09-14 14:15:29 +0100

A new threat on the horizon
The Red Imported Fire Ant is just one of several ant species that are transported in soils, and threaten the UK's biodiversity. It is highly invasive due to its high reproductive capacity, large colony size, ability to exploit human disturbances, wide food range and ability to sting. Its stinging ability allows it to subdue prey and even repel larger vertebrate competitors from resources.