Invasive Species: Not Just Grey Squirrels

Thoughts and musings

Invasive Species: Not Just Grey Squirrels

Lewis | February 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

Everyone in Britain, I’m sure, has heard of the displacement of native red squirrels due to the presence of the Eastern grey squirrels. Since being introduced to the United Kingdom, the greys have been responsible for the falling number of their red counterparts, largely due to holding a competitive advantage over them through increased fitness, size, strength and greater ability to store fat for the chilly British winters. The grey squirrel has been called the most loathed animal in Britain, the Guardian dubbed them “the ultimate ethical meal”, and they were even listed in TIME Magazine’s Top 10 Invasive Species in 2008; click here for the comprehensive list. The scourge is so much that in the UK, under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, if one is caught it is illegal to release it, and should be destroyed. Humanely, of course!

However, when invasive species are discussed, it is a common misconception that this only refers to animals. There are also plant species in the UK that are considered invasive, as they have a tendency to spread, and can harm the environment, or even the health and economy of the human species. Yes, that means you!

The UK Government acknowledges that there are several hundred invasive plant species, including Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam. It is illegal, again under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, to intentionally plant and cultivate invasive plant species, and if you know of any of these plants growing on land you own or occupy, you have a legal responsibility to dispose of them, whether that be through spraying herbicide, burning or cutting, or other means. This useful environmental management page from the Government, which helped in the writing of this blog post, can be found here. In this author’s humble opinion, invasive plant species are a large problem that isn’t as common knowledge that it should be, so please do give the above link a click and a good read.

Here at Oakleigh Manor, we are very careful that we comply with the governmental regulations as set out in the aforementioned Act. For instance, when purchasing topsoil for a project, along with ensuring that is comes from a sustainable source, we make sure that is carefully treated, and is free of invasive species, to help prevent the spread of these silent monsters! You can find out more on our website, at

There’s today’s lesson. The grey squirrel is just the tip of the iceberg.