There are currently 41 non-native plant species on South Georgia all of which have the potential to change ecosystem and have a serious impact on the character of the landscape. Many of the introduced plants are in relatively small populations and associated with areas of human disturbance such as whaling stations, but a few such as dandelion, blue meadow grass and mouse-ear chickweed have naturalised over much of the island.
Management of non-native species is a high priority for South Georgia and in recent years tremendous progress has been made in restoring natural habitats by eradicating rodents and reindeer. In 2014 GSGSSI was successful in applying for funding from the UK Government funded Darwin Plus initiative in order to progress a strategy to manage invasive plants. The strategy that is launched today is the culmination of that process.
Following comprehensive surveys of the distribution and extent of non-native species a strategy has been devised that should see 33 out of the 41 non-native plant species on the island managed to zero population density, or eradicated, by 2020. Delivery of this strategy, continuing to implement rigorous biosecurity measures and building capacity to react rapidly if new species are detected, will have profound benefits for South Georgia ecosystems.
|South Georgia Non-Native Plant Management Strategy 2022
In 2022, GSGSSI published an updated Non-Native Plant Management Strategy. This Non-Native Plant Management Strategy builds on the 2016-2020 document and will guide the delivery of an effective programme of control of high priority non-native plant species at key sites through the continued use of data management tools which optimise the efficacy of field workers.
In order to develop non-native plant management on South Georgia further, the Government recognises that whist control remains the priority, there needs to increased investment into research on non-native plant life histories and climate change impacts. Additionally, capacity building is needed to secure the skills base the project will require in the future.
Non-native plant management work is part of a broader commitment to protect the ecosystems of South Georgia through the implementation of Protect, Sustain, Inspire, as detailed in our Implementation Programme.