It seems that 2020 proved a bumper year for the creation of new ponds in our back gardens, as more people started to enjoy and invest in creating a haven in their outdoor space. According to the Horticultural Trade Association there are more than 2 million new gardeners and over 200,000 new ponds since March 2020. That’s great news for humans and wildlife!

The Spring pond season, traditionally one of the busiest times of year for our industry, was a great opportunity for OATA and its members to spread the word about the Be Plant Wise campaign which relaunched last year. We were delighted to be part of the Be Plant Wise working group and we are proud of the effective working relationships that OATA has with agencies such as the GB Non Native Species Secretariat and Fish Health Inspectorate.

As we celebrate our 30th anniversary this year, OATA has a long history on being pro-active in relation to invasive non native species (INNS), introducing a City and Guilds accredited training programme on INNS for our industry. Find out more about that here. And of course we are always happy to support Invasive Species Week, run by the GB Non Native Species Secretariat.

In the early 2000s and sometime ahead of the official ban, OATA instigated an initiative requesting our industry to remove from sell aquatic plant species such as Ludwigia grandiflora, L. peploides, Crassula helmsii, Hydrocotyle ranunculoides and Myriophyllum aquaticum.

OATA’s care sheets have long borne the ‘No Release’ message and bear the ‘Be Plant Wise’ logo, similar to many of our members who also carry the ‘Be Plant Wise’ logo on their plant labels and the ‘No Release’ message on their products. And of course OATA also supports this annual Invasive Species Week on our website and social media channels.

One of our latest initiatives has been to advise our members that certain snails and mussels (sold for ponds), and which are native in all, or parts of the UK, should only be sourced from UK sources and not imported, due to our concerns on potential hitchhikers. These species are Planorbis corneus/Planorbanus corneus (Ramshorn snail), Anodonta cygnea (Swan mussel), Lymnaea stagnalis (Great pond snail), Viviparus (River snail/Trapdoor snail) and Unio pictor/Uniopictorium pictorum (Painter’s mussel). Find out more here.

We have also been highlighting issues from the US that we’ve been made aware of about moss balls that could be carrying an unwanted hitchhiker in the form of zebra mussels. We will always alert our industry to invasive issues where they can help to stop the spread.

We are always happy to play our part raising awareness about non native species and the problems with those that can become invasive in our countryside. We want to make sure that the only thing that spreads is the message.