Send us news, start your message Messenger News and your send photos and videos to 80360
Beware of alien invaders killing our riverbanks
7:50am Saturday 5th October 2013 in News
ONE of the area’s well-used and best-loved waterways is under threat from invading giants.
The River Bollin, which runs from Macclesfield Forest to the Manchester Ship Canal, is having its natural ecosystem undermined by a massive proliferation of non-native weed species, which dominate the banks and surrounding catchment area.
The problem is so acute in many areas that the three to four metre-high invaders are making the riverbanks virtually impassable.
A team of volunteers has now spent a full year surveying the river and has been shocked at the extent of the problem.
Sally Davies, invasives project officer for Bollin Environmental Action and Conservation group (BEACON), said: “Victorian botanists introduced Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed as specimen garden plants, and they have now spread throughout the country.
“They are incredibly pervasive and in the case of giant hogweed, highly toxic. My conclusion at the end of one year is that these huge plants have a complete stranglehold. Unless they are controlled, the whole Bollin Valley ecosystem will suffer massive and irreversible damage.
“We need the support of local people and local agencies to fight back. That means dog-walkers, landowners, farmers, outdoor activity enthusiasts, young people’s organisations and charities. This starts with the public becoming aware of the problem, recognising the invaders and understanding the harm they do.
“We can then reduce the impact with various chemical treatments and physical intervention, in other words, lots of hard work. We particularly need more volunteers to pull up the Himalayan balsam in the summer months.”
The project, which receives basic government funding from Defra, also needs more money for equipment, including a van, waders, protective suits and masks and materials such as sprayers and herbicides.
Some of the plants are so destructive and established, they can only be removed by professional contractors.
“There is a great deal to do if we are going to restore the Bollin to its full value as a recreational amenity and environmental asset,” said Sally.
“It would be a tragedy if the millions spent on restoring the Bollin to full health after the pollution catastrophe of the industrial revolution were to be wasted as 50 years ago it was Europe’s most polluted tributary. Now we have otters living and breeding in the Bollin, which is a marvellous achievement.”
Sally Davies can be contacted at; firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/BollinNonNatives.
Those using the countryside are warned not to touch giant hogweed, as its sap can cause blistering. Japanese knotweed also needs to be treated with care as even a small fragment of an existing plant can grow into a new invasive giant.
Comments are closed on this article.