Publication - Advice and guidance

Non-native species: code of practice

Published: 8 Aug 2012
Directorate:
Environment and Forestry Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change
ISBN:
9781780459301

Guidance on non-native species, approved by the Scottish Parliament. Came into effect on 2 July 2012.

60 page PDF

422.5 kB

60 page PDF

422.5 kB

Contents
Non-native species: code of practice
3. Native Range

60 page PDF

422.5 kB

3. Native Range

Summary

What is "native range"?

"Native range" is defined in section 14P(2) of the 1981 Act as:

"…the locality to which the animal or plant of that type is indigenous, and does not refer to any locality to which that type of animal or plant has been imported (whether intentionally or otherwise) by any person."

Animals and plants that have been imported into a location outwith their native range by human action, whether intentionally or not, are considered to be non-native in that location.

Some animals and plants may have been transported here a long time ago and be considered "naturalised", but these are still non-native species. Others are native to some parts of the UK but not to other parts (for example native to the mainland but not all islands).

What does this mean for you?

If you wish to release an animal or plant a plant, you must establish whether you would be releasing it within its native range.

If yes, then you would be complying with the 1981 Act (unless an Order preventing the release of a native animal has been made under section 14(1)(a)(ii) of the 1981 Act) [16] .

Finding out what a species' native range is

www.snh.gov.uk

What is "native range"?

3.1 A key distinction is that between native and non-native species.

The term "native range" is defined in the 1981 Act as [17] :

"…the locality to which the animal or plant of that type is indigenous, and does not refer to any locality to which that type of animal or plant has been imported (whether intentionally or otherwise) by any person."

3.2 Animals and plants that have been imported into a location outwith their native range by human action, whether intentionally or otherwise, are considered to be non-native in that location.

3.3 Some of these animals and plants may have been imported to their location recently and are clearly recognised as non-native species. Some may have been imported a long time ago and be considered "naturalised", but these are still non-native species. Others are native to some parts of the UK but not to other parts (for example, native to the mainland but not all islands).

3.4 When the last Ice Age ended over 10,000 years ago the ice that covered most of Britain retreated northwards. Following behind this retreating ice were waves of plants and animals that slowly colonised Britain as conditions warmed up. These plants and animals reached Britain under their own steam as there was still a connection (the land bridge) attaching us to the European mainland. All these plants and animals - the ones that established themselves in Britain naturally and which still occur naturally today - are called native species. As the ice melted so sea levels rose and that land bridge was flooded. This effectively stopped any more colonisation by species that couldn't cross the water.

3.5 Man first arrived in Britain about 8,000 years ago and virtually all new land animals and plants that have become established since this date have been brought here as a result of human activity. These are all non-native species.

3.6 For example, the European rabbit ( Oryctolagus cuniculus) is a species of rabbit native to south west Europe (Spain and Portugal). It was introduced into Britain, most likely with the Normans, and is therefore outwith its native range in Scotland, but is now widespread. As an invasive non-native species it causes millions of pounds of damage to agriculture annually, and it is sensible therefore to prohibit further release into the environment.

3.7 It does not necessarily follow that all non-native species are invasive, however Chapters 4 and 5 explain in more detail why prevention is the best approach to dealing with non-native species.

3.8 The native range of a hybrid animal or plant is defined as any locality within the native range of both parents of the hybrid animal or plant [18] . Any hybrid which has at least one parent non-native to the hybrid's location is considered to be a non-native species in that location.

3.9 Being defined as a non-native plant or animal does not necessarily mean that the plant or animal will be subject to active control measures. However, where appropriate, control of invasive non-native species - beyond the general prohibition on release of non-native species under section 14 - can be required under a Species Control Order (section 14D of the 1981 Act), see Chapter 9.

3.10 Some species are naturally expanding their range, for example the Collared Dove arrived in Great Britain in 1953. If a range is increased naturally (for example, in response to climate change) then this larger area will be considered to be the native range of the animal or plant.

3.11 However, if the range is only expanding as a result of direct human activity then this will not be considered to be the animal or plant's native range - this includes natural range expansion following direct human activity. For example, the harlequin ladybird ( Harmonia axyridis) is native to eastern Asia but has been introduced into Europe from where it has spread to Britain (and Scotland). As it is only present in Europe due to human action importing it to that region, it is outwith its native range in Europe. Although it spread naturally within Europe to Britain, because of the manner by which it was introduced in Europe initially, it is still outwith its native range when it spreads (naturally from Europe) to Britain.

3.12 Animals and plants that were once native in a location but have become extinct are considered to be "former natives" (except in the situation described at 3.13). For the purposes of the 1981 Act former natives are considered to be outwith their native range and it is therefore an offence to release a former native without a licence [19] . The environment may have changed considerably since a former native was present as a species in Scotland and the impact of the former native species on the environment and on land use would need to be assessed before it can be released into the wild.

3.13 Former native species that re-establish themselves without the help of man are considered to have extended their natural range and so to be a native species.

3.14 If you wish to release an animal, it is very important that you establish whether it would be within its native range in the location where you wish to release it. If it is within its native range then you would be complying with the 1981 Act (unless an Order preventing its release has been made by the Scottish Ministers under 14(1)(a)(ii) of the 1981 Act) [20] .

3.15 If you wish to plant a plant, it is very important that you establish whether it would be within its native range in the location where you wish to plant it. If it is within its native range then you would be complying with the 1981 Act.

3.16 To help do this, you can check the Scottish Natural Heritage ( SNH) website for relevant information sources that may help you to determine whether you are complying with the definition.

Non-native animals and plants in Scotland

3.17 The following provide some illustrative examples of animals and plants that are in Scotland and outwith their native ranges:

Japanese knotweed is native to Japan, China and Korea but was deliberately introduced to the UK early in the 19th Century by plant collectors. In its native range it spreads both by seed and vegetatively (in the UK only by vegetative means) but without human assistance it would not otherwise have crossed oceans etc. to establish in Great Britain. It is therefore a non-native species in Great Britain.

The ruffe is a freshwater fish that is native to southern Britain. It is thought to have been introduced to Loch Lomond as a bait fish by anglers. Without human assistance it would not have been able to move outside of the catchments in its native range. It is therefore a non-native species in Loch Lomond and anywhere else outwith southern Britain (unless it naturally extends its native range).

The European hedgehog has a native range spanning mainland Britain, most of Europe, Asia and North Africa. It was introduced to the Outer Hebrides in the 1970s to control slugs in gardens. Hedgehogs would not otherwise have been able to cross the sea to reach the Hebrides. It is therefore a non-native species in the Outer Hebrides and any other Scottish islands.


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