Pulling the plug on space invadersPUBLISHED ON: 19 JANUARY 2018
This is the first in a series of posts by project officers from the Heritage Lottery Fund Our Past, Our Future landscape partnership scheme. We will hear from Catherine Chatters and Jo Gore, New Forest Non-Native Plants Officers for Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust (HIWWT), to find out what they and their dedicated team of volunteers have been doing to help protect the Forest.
The New Forest is one of the most important areas for wildlife in Western Europe and it is vital that action is taken to prevent the spread of invasive non-native plants. These aggressive invaders include Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed, giant hogweed and American skunk cabbage, and they cause damage to the natural heritage of the National Park.
Invasive plants are often introduced into gardens as ornamentals, from which they spread and begin to invade the surrounding landscape, outcompeting native species that the local wildlife depends on for food.
We are working with landowners and volunteers to reduce the impact of invasive non-native plants from the banks of the Lymington River and its tributaries, Cadnam River and Avon Water where bankside non-natives are a serious issue.
In 2017 a total of 335 people helped pull Himalayan balsam, giving over 3,264 hours of their time to Our Past, Our Future volunteer work parties. We are grateful to have such an enthusiastic and hardworking volunteer force helping us with this project, as without them we wouldn’t be able to cover the distance we do.
Our work parties take place across the summer and luckily Himalayan balsam has short roots, so it is easy to pull up and can be very satisfying. If you enjoy spending time outdoors, want to help make a difference in the Forest whilst meeting like-minded people, then why not spend some time volunteering with our friendly team this summer?
If you are interested in joining a work party in 2018, please contact Catherine Chatters, New Forest Non-Native Plants Officer, at Catherine.Chatters@hiwwt.org.uk.
More information about the Our Past, Our Future scheme and New Forest Non-Native Plants project can be found online at www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/landscapepartnership.