How do I put together a strategic plan?

In order to maximise the effectiveness of any action it is important to have a clear plan. Once the ToR, aims and objectives have been agreed it is recommended that the next step is to identify priorities for action. Action can include carrying out a survey, practical removal of INS, monitoring, horizon scanning or a public awareness campaigns. It is also be valuable to consider training and volunteers in a local strategic plan.

Characteristics of a good local strategic plan:
  • Use of timelines and milestones
  • Adequate budget and time (number of worker days and costs per milestone)
  • Regular monitoring to check if the project is on track and
  • Capability to adjust the project if needed
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Records and data available to other interested groups.

Prioritising action

Priorities should be set with the aim of minimising the total long-term workload and therefore, cost of the operation in terms of money, resources and opportunities.

In order of highest priority, projects should (in broad terms) aim for:
  • Prevention
  • Detection
  • Eradication
  • Control
  • Mitigation

The priority setting process can be difficult because so many factors need to be considered. It may help if these factors are grouped into four categories. These can be thought of as filters designed to screen out the worst non-native species:
  1. Current and potential extent of the species on or near the site
  2. Current and potential impacts of the species
  3. Value of the habitats/areas that the species infests or may infest
  4. Difficulty of control

Species can be ranked (i.e. 1,2,3) or classed (i.e. worst pests, moderate pests, minor pests) within these catagories. This should highlight on which species efforts should be concentrated and which species are less urgent. Below are suggestions for how species should be ranked within the four catagories:

1. Current and potential extent of the species on or near the site
i)    Species not yet present on the site but are present nearby, pay particular attention to known pests elswhere in the region.
ii)  Species present on the site as new populations or outliers of larger infestations especially if rapidly expanding.
iii) Species present on the site in large infestations that continue to expand.
iv) Species present on the site in large infestations which are not expanding.

2. Current and potential impacts of the species
i)   Species which alter ecosystm processes such as fire frequency, sedimentation, nutrient cycling.
ii)  Species that kill, parasitise, hybridise or outcompete natives or dominate a community.
iii) Species which do not outcompete natives but; prevent/depress recruitment or regeneration, reduce or eliminate resources, promote populations of invasive non-native species.
iv) Species that overtake or exclude natives following natural disturbances.

3. Value of the habitats/areas that the species infests or may infest
i)  Species which impact on most highly valued habitat or area (including areasof rare or highly valued species or vital resources).
ii) Species which impact on less valued habitat or area (including an area already impacted by other non-native species unless a new infestation will make the situation significantly worse).

4. Difficulty of control
i)   Species likely to be eradicated/controlled with available technology and resources and which will be replaced by natives.
ii)  Species likely to be controlled but not replaced by natives without a restoration programme.
iii) Species difficult to control and/or whose control will likely negatively impact on other native species.
iv) Species unlikely to be controlled and species of decreasing populations, those that only colonise disturbed areas.

Surveys

The process of prioritising action may reveal the need for more information. Surveys may be needed to inform the process.  Information about surveys can be found here.

Management options

There are four main management options. In order of preference these are:
  1. Eradication
  2. Containment
  3. Control
  4. Mitigation
If prevention has failed, then eradication programme is the most desirable option but often the most difficult to acheive. Once a species is established and eradication is no longer possible, containment is the next feasible option, aiming to  keep a species within a region boundary.  Controlling a species by supressing population growth is the next important option.  If  none of these options are feasible then the last option is to mitigate the impacts caused by non-native species.

Whichever management option is chosen it it vitally important to choose the most appropriate methods and to carry out the action at the most appropriate time of the year or life stage of the invader.

Click here for more infomation about control methods for non-native aquatic and riparian species.

Awareness raising

Raising public awareness of non-native species and engaging stakeholders is important for several reasons from encouraging reporting of sightings of non-native species new to an area through to preventing accidental release of non-native species into the wild. Awareness raising could also help inform surveys and recruit new vounteers. There are many resources available from this website for raising public awareness. See the list (Awareness raising material) on the front page of the Local action group pages by clicking here.

Monitoring

In order to evaluate the success or failure of the management efforts it will be necessary to monitor the population of a target species or condition of a target area. The overarching goal is preservation or restoration of natural habitats to a predetermined level. To evaluate progress set a series of subtargets which are on the way to the final goal. It is worth noting that monitoring the numbers of animals/metres sq of plants removed measures the amount of work done but not the success of the programme. Success of the project can only be measured  by monitoring the numbers of pest species that remain and the condition of the ecosystem they are in. It should not be assumed that removal of a pest species will automatically result in the return of indiginous species and improvement in habitat condition, sometimes removal of pest species results in colonisation by other non-desirable species.

Methods for monitoring presence of non-native species are described in the survey section, click here.

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