Monday, 15 November 2010

Taking the Initiative on Invasives

Eden Rivers Trust is launching a new initiative in the Eden Valley to take action against invasive alien species. This will mobilise all interested parties in a coordinated plan of attack, to stop the spread of unwanted species already here and prevent the introduction of others not yet arrived.

The first step is to get the relevant people and organisations together, to find out the extent of the problem, and to discuss possible ways of tackling it. This will take place at an event on Thursday 2nd December 2010 in Newbiggin Hall, Newbiggin, near Stainton from 10am to 1pm.

Eden Rivers Trust would like anyone interested to come along to this event and get involved. They want to gather local knowledge on the location and extent of invasive species along the River Eden and its tributaries. They also want to hear about any action already taking place, and suggestions about the best way forward.

The aim is to create an Eden Invasive Species Group which will identify invasive species in the River Eden catchment, prioritize future control, and co-ordinate the work that is already being done.

This event is the start of a coordinated approach to tackling invasive species in the Eden Valley. We hope as many people as possible will come along to share their knowledge and ideas on how to keep out or get rid of these unwanted animals and plants.

To book your place, please contact me on tel. no. 01768 866788 or email, so that we have an idea of the number of people attending.

Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed and Giant Hogweed are the three plants causing most concern at present. These occur particularly along river banks and all have negative impacts on the local wildlife, as well as on farming and recreation. Himalayan balsam, for example, smothers our native riverside plants, dies back in winter and leaves banks bare and vulnerable to erosion. Japanese knotweed is extremely vigorous and rapidly takes over vast areas, growing through tarmac, concrete and drains. Giant Hogweed is a health hazard because it contains toxic sap which can cause severe burns.

Other invasive species of concern include American signal crayfish and a parasite of fish called Gyrodactylus salaris. Neither of these are currently found in the Eden catchment but could arrive at any time and be disastrous for the local environment and economy.

American signal crayfish occur in all the counties surrounding Cumbria and they and the disease they carry, crayfish plague, are lethal to the native white-clawed crayfish, which has one of its last strongholds in the county.

Local fish populations are at risk from the invasive parasite called Gyrodactylus salaries, which is found in Scandinavia and other parts of Europe. It causes a serious fish disease called Gyrodactylosis which infects the skin, gills and fins of salmon, trout and some other species of freshwater fish. This disease is one of the biggest threats to the wild salmon population in the UK and has the potential to cause widespread losses in the UK’s valuable stocks of both wild and farmed freshwater Atlantic salmon. If introduced here it would be difficult to eradicate because of the very diverse nature of our river ecosystems.

To stop the spread of crayfish plague and Gyrodactylus, it is essential to ensure that any equipment such as boats, fishing nets, waders, etc used on rivers and other water bodies is thoroughly dried and disinfected before it is used again. These diseases can easily be spread via tiny spores carried on wet gear, especially felt-soled waders as they rarely dry out completely.

Eden Rivers Trust is also working with the county-wide coordinator of the Cumbria Freshwater Invasive Non-native Species (FINNS) Initiative (visit for more details). This will ensure that all those involve in invasive species will learn from each others’ experiences and there will be a coordinated approach across the county. For more information on non-native invasive species visit

If you would like to come along to Eden Rivers Trust’s event on the 2nd December please book your place by contacting Eden Rivers Trust on 01768 866788 or email