The Scottish Invasive Species Initiative is a 8-year partnership project which works with local organisations and volunteers to control invasive non-native species along riversides in Northern Scotland, for the benefit of our native wildlife and communities.
The project is led by NatureScot and is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and NatureScot (2017-2023) and the Scottish Government's Nature Restoration Fund, managed by NatureScot (2023-2026) and by in-kind support from project partners and volunteers.
Our iconic Scottish freshwater rivers and lochs are at the heart of our environment and they play a key role in supporting much of Scotland’s wildlife, support a range of economic activities and have a high social and recreational value. Invasive non-native species (INNS) are having a significant negative impact on our freshwater and riparian (riverside) environments, being responsible for the decline of native species and causing effects like bank erosion. We want to halt and control the spread of invasive species, undertake habitat restoration and encourage the return of our native wildlife.
Our project staff will work with the ten Fisheries Trusts/Boards who look after the rivers from the Tay in the south to the remote catchments of North West Sutherland, to recruit and train volunteers and work with local groups to enable control of invasive species at a local level, embedded in the community. View the area we are working on the project area map. We are funded for 8 years, until March 2026, after which time our aspiration is that local community control of invasives will continue, making this a sustainable long-term solution to invasive species control.
Everyone can help halt the spread of invasive non-native species, whether by getting directly involved in control work, practising better biosecurity to limit their spread or by simply being more aware of invasive species and reporting sightings. We want to raise awareness of the problems invasives cause and engage the public in being part of the solutions.
This is an ambitious project, aiming to create a sense of cohesion between partners, volunteers and communities and working at a large-scale across a third of Scotland to ensure co-ordinated INNS control. Read more about our partners and funders.
Our Volunteering Policy outlines our commitment to, and support of, our volunteers. Read our Volunteer Policy (English or Gaelic).
Our Activity Plan
Invasive Non-Native Plant Control Project
We are targetting several key invasive non-native plants across the project area - the worst offenders in creating problems in our environment. As well as our own staff and contractors removing these, we will recruit, train, equip and support a network of volunteers across the partnership area. We aim to have all our target areas in a minimal maintenance state within the duration of the project.
Our key invasive plant control target plant species across the project area are; Giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam
Read more about the Invasive Plant Control Project
American Mink Control Project
The invasive American mink is well-known to be responsible for the decimation of native wildlife, particularly the water vole. Building on the work of previous mink control projects, and in partnership with the University of Aberdeen, we will undertake a programme of monitoring and trapping for removal of mink, with the help of a network of volunteers. We aim to have breeding mink reduced to minimal levels (less than 10% of original detection rates) and we aim to see recovery of native mink prey species; water vole and moor hen.
Read more about the Mink Control Project
Spreading the word
We are working to raise awareness about invasive non-native species and their impacts and educating people about making a difference through good biosecurity and how to record wildlife sightings. We are engaging people in discovering about the importance of the river environment and its native wildlife and are delivering various education initiatives; including our fun educational resources Alien Detectives, our film-making project and working with schools to ensure we are inspiring and educating the next generation to value our iconic species and habitats.
Read more about our Education Programme
Creating a volunteer community
Central to our approach is the establishment of a volunteer network that will be passionate about our iconic freshwater habitats and species and will continue to control invasive species beyond the end of the SISI project. We know from previous projects that partnership and volunteer-based invasive control at large geographical scales can be successful - we also know that control at this scale is challenging and takes hard work and investment in people to be sustainable.
Read more about Volunteering and how you can help
Keep it Clean! Promoting biosecurity
A key part of controlling invasive species in Scotland is preventing their spread into new areas. This can happen naturally by seed dispersal, but often it is due to people unwittingly carrying invasive species as hitchhikers on their canoes, fishing gear or walking boots. As part of our project we will highlight the importance of practising good biosecurity measures so we can stop the spread of invasive species.
Read more about Biosecurity