STOPPING THE SPREAD: Balsam bashing was a regular activity undertaken by volunteers during the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership project
STOPPING THE SPREAD: Balsam bashing was a regular activity undertaken by volunteers during the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership project

OUTDOOR enthusiasts are being urged to take three simple steps to prevent the spread of invasive non-native species (INNS).

From anglers to boat users, the region’s waters are well used due to their diverse range and habitats which provide opportunities for leisure activities.

But the Environment Agency is urging people to stop the spread by making sure they check, clean and dry their boots and equipment after use.

The advice comes as part of a UK-wide initiative aimed at raising awareness of invasive species and the work being done to tackle them.

Invasive species is any non-native animal or plant that has the ability to spread causing damage to environment, the economy, our health and impacts on native wildlife.

People can unknowingly spread them on their clothes and equipment.

It includes creatures such as the Asian hornet, aquatic species like the Chinese mitten crab and signal crayfish, and plants including Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and floating pennywort.

Agency officials say people can help protect the waters they love by following the simple steps:

Sam Turner

l Check your equipment and clothing for live organisms – particularly in areas that are damp and hard to inspect.

l Clean and wash all equipment, footwear and clothes thoroughly. Use hot water where possible. If you do come across any organisms, leave them at the water body where you found them.

l Dry all equipment and clothing – some species can live for many days in moist conditions. Make sure you don’t transfer water elsewhere.

Patsy Ryan from the Environment Agency in the North East, said: “Invasive non-native species can have a damaging impact on plants and wildlife by spreading disease and competing for habitat and food.

“Water users might be unknowingly spreading invasive species from one waterbody to another in equipment, footwear and clothes.

“It’s important people follow these sensible and simple measures of check, clean, dry to ensure that our waters continue to be beautiful places for people to enjoy.”

For more information visit www.nonnativespecies.org.