South Georgia

The Wildlife and Protected Areas Ordinance of 2011 includes Section 11 on non-native species which sets out provisions which forbid the release of non-native animals, plants or micro-organisms, except under permit. Section 14 relates to restrictions on the import of animals and plants or their products.

The JNCC database lists 51 introduced species for South Georgia including 15 invertebrates, 33 plants and 3 mammals. Various animals were brought in by the sealers and whalers, mainly for food or as companion animals. However, the only surviving deliberate introduction is Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). Brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) and House Mice (Mus domesticus) were accidentally introduced by sealers, probably during the nineteenth century. Most introduced plants came in via the whaling stations as seeds with cargo and building material or as fodder for livestock.

Problems with invasive non-native species

Brown rats are present on much of the snow-free area of South Georgia although there range is restricted by glaciers. They feed on eggs and chicks of ground-nesting birds and burrowing petrels. The South Georgia Pipit (Anthus antarcticus) is effectively now restricted to rat-free islands and predation of Speckled Teal (Anas flavirostris) young may have led to the small population no longer breeding regularly on the island. The range of House Mice and their impact is not known. Reindeer have overgrazed some areas and are implicated in the local eradications of some lichens and in the spread of the introduced Annual meadow-grass (Poa annua).

A number of introduced plant species seem to be spreading and potentially impacting on native flora species (eg Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) and Bittergrass (Cardamine glacialis)). Introduced hover flies (Eristalis croceimaculata) and Bluebottles (Calliphora vicina) may help spread introduced invasive plants. The latter may also compete with native flies. Two introduced ground beetles (Trechisibus antarcticus) and (Merizodus soledadinus) are general predators of other invertebrates and have damaging effects on a number of native species.

Priority invasive non-native species and actions

The South Georgia Heritage Trust (SGHT) and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) are undertaking the first stages of an ambitious programme to eradicate invasive species from South Georgia. Currently, action is underway to eradicate rat populations; phase 1 to eradicate rats in the King Edward Point and Grytiviken area and on the recently infested Saddle Island was completed during the 2011-12 season and funding for Phase 2, starting in February 2013 is now being sought. Preliminary fieldwork has also been undertaken on removing the known mouse populations in the Nunez Peninsula – Cape Rosa area. Consideration is also being given to eradicating the reindeer population.

South Georgia also has Biosecurity Protocols (external link) in place for all visitors in order to prevent the introduction of non-native species. 

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