The Overseas Territories

Invasive non-native species are a particularly significant problem for the UK Oversea Territories because they comprise mostly small, isolated islands and have high levels of rare and endemic biodiversity.

Find out more about invasive species in each territory by clicking on the map below:

Biodiversity in the Oveseas Territories

The UK has 14 Overseas Territories (OTs) and three Crown Dependencies, all of which are islands except for the British Antarctic Territory, Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas and Gibraltar. The OTs together account for 94% of the UKs unique biodiversity and as such make a significant contribution to global biodiversity.

Read the JNCC report Biodiversity the UK Overseas Territories to find out more.

Impacts of Invasive Non-native Species

The impacts of invasive non-native species on small islands is often much worse than elsewhere because the native flora and fauna have evolved in isolation from predators, competitors and diseases. As a result native species are less able to compete and defend themselves in the face of new threats. Since 1500 72% of global extinctions have occurred on islands and 67% of birds on oceanic islands are threatened by invasive non-native species (Baillie et al 2004). Being predominantly islands, the OTs are very vulnerable to the introduction of potentially harmful invasive non-native species, recognised as the biggest threat to island biodiversity, as well as to food security and sustainable development.

UK Government response

Together with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), Defra has agreed a Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in the UK Overseas Territories. The Strategy aims to address the needs of the OTs, and has been built on an assessment of priorities for biodiversity conservation action carried out by the JNCC.

Read the Overseas Territories Strategy here.

The OT Biosecurity Project

In 2016 Defra secured funding over four years (2016-2020) under the FCO’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) to help the development of comprehensive biosecurity for the OTs by providing them with access to UK expertise on risk analysis, pathway management, pest identification, horizon scanning, contingency planning, rapid response capability and species management. The project, Tackling Invasive Non-Native Species in the UK Overseas Territories (the OT Biosecurity project), is managed by the GB Non-native Species Secretariat (NNSS).

Read more on the activities and achievements of the OT Biosecurity Project in the following documents:

One Health approach

The one-health approach recognizes that the health of humans, animals and ecosystems are interconnected. It involves applying a coordinated, collaborative, multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to address potential or existing risks that originate at the animal-human-ecosystems interface.

As the OTs move forward it is essential that the one health approach is accepted and promoted, recognizing biosecurity as an all-inclusive term that includes policy and regulation to protect agriculture, food and the environment from biological risk.

Read more on the one-health approach.

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