Thursday, 20 August 2009
Wednesday, 12 August 2009
In Japan, Japanese Knotweed is controlled naturally by a combination of fungus and insects. However, in the UK, there are no natural enemies for Japanese Knotweed and it out competes all our native species for light, water and nutrients.
The speed at which Japanese Knotweed has spread throughout Britain has been nothing less than spectacular. The damage it has already caused to commercial and domestic sites is practically unquantifiable and it now occupies a site in every 10km_ of England and Wales and is also present to a lesser extent in Scotland, Ireland and other parts of Europe.
The aggressive growth pattern is capable of exposing weaknesses in hard engineered structures such as concrete, tarmac, brick walls and foundations.
Specific problems caused by Japanese Knotweed are:
Damage to paving and tarmac areas
Damage to retaining wall structures
Damage to building foundations
Damage to flood defence structures
Damage to archaeological sites
Reduction in land values
Reduction in biodiversity through out-shading native vegetation
Many insects / wildlife that are dependent on our native plants are lost or in danger
Restriction of access to riverbanks for anglers, bank inspection and amenity use
And it's here. We know that it is present in the Eamont system but have scant information on it's distribution throughout the rest of the catchment.
Between the two of them Balsam and Japanese Knotweed represent a serious threat to the ecology of the Eden system. When all of this is coupled with threat from other invaders such as signal crayfish and the salmon parasite Gyrodactylus Salaris (GS) things can look pretty bleak.
However in Eden apart from extensive distribution of balsam, we have managed to avoid being colonised by the others. This has been due to a combination of awareness raising and a huge slice of luck.
We must raise our game to not only control the rate that non-native species are having in the catchment but mount a extensive awareness raising campaign. Sources of introductions can be numerous from 'well meaning' individuals who think they look pretty through to commercial sources such as garden centres. There are lots of other species to be aware of. I've just heard of problems being caused by 'Skunk Cabbage'...the mind boggles as to what that looks / smells like?
We should strive to ensure the Eden retains as many of it's native species as possible...in short we need to repel these alien invaders...before it's too late!
The 'striking' advert is from a company called Japanese Knotweed Solutions (JKS) who's Director Mike Clough is helping ERT to scope a project map the distribution and produce a strategy on the Eamont and Petteril sub-catchments. Mike and JKS are donating a significant amount of time to support our charitable activities. They are also corporate sponsors of the Wild Trout Trust. Visit their very informative website http://www.jksl.com/.
Monday, 3 August 2009
This alien invader is really the scourge of the Eden valley.
It out-competes our native plants and in the winter when it dies back can leave river banks vulnerable to erosion. All of that eroded material can choke spawning gravels which in turn will reduce the recruitment of wild salmon, trout and grayling....all in all very bad news.
The distribution of this plant is widespread throughout the catchment and it may appear to some to be a problem that can't be tackled. But here at ERT we feel differently and we are doing something about it. We organise balsam bashing days with volunteers to tackle reaches of the upper Eden where the problem isn't too bad. On it's own this approach will not solve the problem at a catchment level, but it is a very useful at raising awareness of the issue . Moves are a foot to start to co-ordinate efforts not only within the Eden catchment but across Cumbria as a whole. The Cumbria Invasive Species Forum is co-ordinating a bid for funding to take a county based approach to invasive species control. This would be backed up with local coordinators on a catchment by catchment basis. But this still would not be enough ....and this is where angling clubs can really make a difference.
Fishing clubs on the Eden are in a perfect position to make a major contribution in helping to eradicate and control balsam. Each year many clubs organise working parties to 'tidy-up' the river, repair stiles, etc.... Well, how about organising balsam bashing parties as well. This is one of the more significant threats facing the quality of fishing on the river and clubs simply cannot afford to ignore the problem.
It may seem like the problem is too big, but it's not too late and with hard work and co-ordination we can win this battle to eradicate this alien invader!
Invasive issues are rising up the conservation agenda and are also being incorporated in to legislation through mechanisms such as the Water Framework Directive. Here at ERT we would like to have an officer on the ground to co-ordinate our efforts and work with interest groups such as fishing clubs and community groups. We are resource limited but we are hoping to start a demonstration project on the Petteril later this year. Hopefully what we learn will then be used as a blue print for the rest of the catchment.
Please contact us if you would like more information about invasive species and their control within the Eden catchment. Why not attend one of our Balsam Bashing Volunteer Days as well!