A draft version of the new National Invasive Alien Species Management Plan is set to go out on public consultation later this year, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage has said.
According to the National Biodiversity Data Centre, there are around 1,280 non-native species currently recorded in Ireland, with the majority being harmless.
However, around 13% of the 377 non-native species assessed for their risk of impact have spread and become invasive non-native species.
It is estimated that these invasive species cost the Irish economy over €2.2 million annually.
Along with causing damage, which is sometimes irreversible, to native wildlife and the environment, these species can also impact human health by spreading disease or irritating the skin and respiratory system.
Among the high-impact invasive species in Ireland are: Sika and Fallow deer; Japanese Knotweed; Zebra Mussel; Harlequin Ladybird; and Giant rhubarb.
The Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage allocated €3 million to the Local Authority Biodiversity Action Fund this year, up from €1.5 million in 2022.
Last year, almost €350,000 of that fund was earmarked for projects focused on invasive species, including education, awareness and control measures.
Projects in counties Cork and Roscommon targeting the removal of Japanese Knotweed by local authorities were awarded a total of €24,000.
Under the current legislative framework, responsibility for dealing with invasive alien species rests with the landowner.
Public bodies, government departments and state agencies must also work within this framework to manage, control and, where practicable, eradicate these species.
“New legislation dealing with invasive alien species is at an advanced stage and is currently being finalised.
“This legislation will strengthen the legislative framework dealing with invasive alien species, particularly with regard to those listed species identified as being in trade,” a department spokesperson told Agriland.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has published guidelines on invasive species when it comes to angling, recreational boating and the movement of soil and stone.
“The development of a national invasive alien species management plan is a priority in the department and work is underway on the drafting of this plan,” the department spokesperson said.
They added that the NPWS has convened a steering committee, which first met on March 8, to help further develop the draft plan, with public consultation to take place later this year.