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Cash boost to fight alien invaders
1:00pm Wednesday 28th August 2013 in News
Battling the invasion of non-native plants along our local rivers is an ongoing issue, and an expensive one, for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust.
The Wiltshire Invasive Plants Project (WIPP) identifies and eradicates non-native invasive species, such as Himalayan balsam, from the waterways around Swindon, and members of the project were delighted to receive an award of £500 from Wessex Watermark to buy protective clothing and help fund its work.
Himalayan balsam, whose explosive seeds travel on water to colonise river banks downstream, and Japanese knotweed can quickly take control of riverbanks, smothering all other biodiversity and causing damaging erosion.
WIPP is currently the only programme which is working to eradicate these plants in North Wiltshire by systematic management.
Since 2009 it has operated on the head of the Rivers Thames, Ray, Marden and By Brook, but a few more years of work will be required to get the Himalayan balsam under control.
Much of the success of WIPP lies with the teams of volunteers who are trained to identify and remove these invasive plants and work alongside the Trust’s field ecologists. WIPP liaises with landowners and anglers and has successfully raised awareness among the wider community to help halt the spread of these invasive plants from the river’s headwaters “Volunteering for the WIP project is a great way to see the countryside and meet a wide variety of people.” Mike Carter, a WIPP volunteer said.
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