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31 Jul 2012
Thanks to a grant from DEFRA (the government department for environment, food and rural affairs) a project begins this summer to fight back against the invasive plants that threaten parts of the Island’s ecosystem.
Natural Enterprise will be working with Newport Rivers, the Environment Agency and Island partners to target species such as Japanese Knotweed and Himalayan Balsam. These are non-native plants that have the ability to spread rapidly and displace a more natural flora leaving behind habitats and wildlife that are poorer as a result.
The work will start in areas now almost entirely overtaken by invasive plants; conservation volunteers will be working with the Natural Enterprise team to permanently clear large stands and mop up smaller outbreaks and so gradually give the local environment a chance to return to more favourable conditions for biodiversity.
Himalayan Balsam has spread across the whole of the UK since it was first introduced to British gardens in 1839. The key to its dramatic success is its explosive dispersal from pods which can catapult seeds over a very wide area. Its large and impressive pink flowers are very attractive to bees and other pollinators so there is never a shortage of new seeds. So attractive is balsam that it in fact out-competes nearby native plants for the attentions of pollinating insects and so reduces their ability to spread only making its invasive tendencies worse!
The invasive plant project will run for three years initially and is intended to help start the strategic and sustained effort that will be needed to push back these species and recover lost habitats.