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Volunteers get to grips with aliens (during Invasive Species Week)!
Last week Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT) and partners from the Wey Landscape Partnership Local Action Group got together to tackle the problem of non-native invasive species (NNIS) in Surrey. Along with the National Trust (NT) and Surrey Biodiversity Information Centre (SBIC), 39 local volunteers and staff worked together to help manage river and wetland habitat by recording and removing NNIS at 3 locations on the River Wey. Volunteers got to grips with Himalayan balsam on the Hoe Stream in Woking, at Wey Valley Meadows SSSI in Shalford, near Guildford, and at the Philips Memorial Park in Godalming.
NNIS cost the UK economy £1.7 million per annum through expenditure on control, decreased yields, increased erosion and flooding; they are also one of the principal drivers of biodiversity loss and ecosystem change. Some of the more widespread NNIS in Surrey include plants such as Himalayan balsam, water fern, floating pennywort and animals such as American mink and the signal crayfish.
Himalayan balsam is a particularly widespread problem on the River Wey and the 3 tasks organised by SWT were focused on their removal. These tasks were carried out with help from the NT. Work along the Hoe Valley was carried out with the support of Woking Borough Council and work in Godalming was supported by Waverley Borough Council.
Frances Halstead, SWT Environmental Groups Support Officer who organized the projects, says: “The volunteers came along, despite the short notice, to brave the biting insects and wet weather; they worked really hard to make a real difference along the River Wey. Mountains of Himalayan balsam plants were removed and piled up to compost down. By removing Himalayan balsam from the riverside a wide range of our native plants will now be allowed to flower such as purple loosestrife and meadowsweet.”
The first step in controlling NNIS is to record where they occur and at the last session in Godalming, Surrey Biodiversity Information Centre was on hand to show volunteers how to identify and survey for the common invasive species. You can get involved by sending your records of Invasive Species to Catherine Burton at SBIC. Email Catherine.firstname.lastname@example.org. Please remember to record Who, What, Where and When you found it.
It can be disheartening for local conservation groups to work away at controlling species like Himalayan balsam, full in the knowledge that upstream the plant isn’t being controlled. The partners in the Wey Landscape Project are joining together to formulate a strategic plan for the control of Himalayan balsam along the whole of the Wey Catchment, to help focus resources by identifying important sites which will be made a priority for the plant’s removal. The Local Action Group also hopes to apply for more funding so that a Project Officer post can be created to tackle the problem of NNIS across the whole of Surrey. If you would like to know more about this project or would like to get involved. Please contact Frances Halstead on 07891 514574 or email email@example.com.
|Date published:||Tuesday 07 August 2012|