Invasive species go under the spotlight

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A forum created to tackle the challenges and damage caused by invasive non-native plants in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City has met for the first time.

Activities took place across the country to mark Invasive Species Week.

The North East Invasive Non-Native Species Project met for a day of discussion of plants and animals that have been introduced to the north-east over the years.

Many plant and animal species introduced to the United Kingdom have provided benefits to society. However, others which spread rapidly due to the absence of competitors or predators can cause significant environmental damage and can be very costly and difficult to control or eradicate.

Giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed and Himalayan balsam are just three such plants causing considerable problems in the north east of Scotland.

They have spread along watercourses and into other natural habitats, where they form dense stands, reducing the natural biodiversity and causing structural problems such as bank erosion.

Aberdeenshire Council led a bid to the LEADER Co-operation Fund which has funded the employment of a North East Invasive Non-Native Species project co-ordinator, Calum Hislop.

Calum will work with a broad range of organisations, community groups and volunteers to control and prevent the spread of invasive plants.

“I am looking forward to working with a broad range of organisations, community groups and volunteers to control and prevent the spread of invasive plants” said Calum.

Supporting the project’s work are Aberdeenshire councillors Anne Stirling and Anouk Kloppert, who have signed up as champions to raise awareness of the threats posed by invasive non-native species. Taking a co-ordinated approach to tackling the issue of invasive non-native plants across Aberdeenshire gives us the best chance of making a noticeable impact,” said Cllr Stirling. “I’m very pleased we have Calum as a dedicated project officer to work with all the groups involved, as this will allow more efficient targeting of control work and the best use of available resources.”

Cllr Kloppert added: “I am aware that work to control invasive species on the River Ythan has been ongoing for several years now and relies on a dedicated group of volunteers.”

To get involved contact calum@riverdee.org