Controlling Priority Invasive Non-native Riparian Plants and Restoring Native Biodiversity
The CIRB project (Controlling invasive priority non-native species and restoring native biodiversity) is funded by INTERREG IVA and is being undertaken by a partnership of Queens University Belfast, the Rivers and Fisheries Trusts of Scotland, University of Ulster and Inland Fisheries Ireland.
Across Scotland, Ayrshire Rivers Trust has secured the largest indiviual share of the fund of the Scottish Parners (Argyll Fisheries Trust, Galloway Fisheries Trust, The Tweed Forum and RAFTS).
The project will also aim to restore native biodiversity to those areas currently affected Invasive Non Native Species (INNS). ART in conjunction with Queens University, Belfast will monitor and assess the methods of control used in the project to determine the most sustainable techniques. Japanese Knotweed for example has traditionally been controlled by spraying however, ART has trialled the relatively unproven technique of stem injection themselves and are keen to further research the efficacy of this method and this will be an outcome of the project. We will also assess native species regrowth following treatments.
Control Effort in 2011
In Ayrshire we aim to control Giant Hogweed acrosss the district wherever it occurs in (or threatens) a riparian habitat. We will also be controlling Japanese Knotweed in a strategic manner on the Upper Ayr Catchment and the Upper Girvan. Both these rivers are badly affected by Japanese Knotweed in their lower catchment however, in the upper reaches, there are areas threatened by relatively few or minor stands of this plant. These areas will be targeted initially following a strategic plan of action. Once these stands have been dealt with effectively, control will progress downstream as funding allows.
April 2011 and contractors recruited through a competitive tendering process commenced Giant Hogweed Control on the Ayr (Thomas Halliday) and Irvine (including the Garnock) (Complete Weed Control) Catchments. These two large rivers and their tributaries are heavily infested with this dangerous weed. Although the Trust has been controlling GHW on the upper Ayr for the last 3 years, the lower river has never been effectively brought under control and consequently there are large areas where access is severely restricted during summer months. The Rivers Irvine, Annick and Garnock similarly have never been controlled in a strategic manner. Several smaller burns are also included for control in this INTERREG project under the title of 'The Coastal Burns' including the lower Slaphouse Burn, the Doon Estuary, the Pow Burn and its tributaries and control on these waters have already been completed by the Invasive Weeds Agency.
This project will run for 4 years and although this is insufficient time to eradicate Giant Hogweed or Japanese Knotweed from any catchment, it will allow us to reduce the scale of the problem to manageable levels. Included in the control strategy is the training of local volunteers to industry standards in Pesticide application in or near a water course (PA6AW). ART has already trained 8 volunteers in 2011 and will continue at this level until the end of the project in 2015 effectively preparing 32 volunteers from angling clubs, syndicates and the local community for the continued maintenance of the control effort at significantly reduced levels. Of course if ART can secure funding to continue with contractors we will.
Anyone interested in undertaking the PA6AW pesticides training course please get in touch with the office as these places are always very sought after. There is no cost to those being trained and full equipment will be supplied once candidiates successfully pass their exam.
May Update 2011
The spraying schedule is well advanced and remains just about on target despite difficult weather conditions for the last 4 weeks. All contractors are making the most of the good days and working long shifts to stay on track. Early indications show that they are managing to hit a high percentage of the plants on the first spraying although inevitably some are missed. The follow up visit(s) should ensure that no plants flower this year. Volunteers have ben supplied with their new equipment and will soon commence treatment of any plants they come across once the contractors have finished.
We have noticed that in some areas Giant Hogweed has spread further than anticipated between the time of survey and commencing the CIRB project. Dalmore House and Estate just downstream of Stair Bridge is typical and although a badly afected area at the time of survey, the plant has spread far away from the river and through woodland and a former orchard. Annbank House, or rather the site of Annbank House similarly requires significant treatment far from the river. Despite these developments, we are confident that we will effectively treat all affected areas within budget.
On the Annandale Burn / Moorfield Burn to the west of Kilmarnock, GHW has exploded across this area at a worrying rate. Derelict industrial sites and house development sites exist side by side and the plant respects no boundaries. At the time of writing, ART has instigated meetings with most of the developers and are hopeful that strategies to halt the spread of this plant will be implimented as soon as possible. ART will monitor this situation closely and in the meantime we will organise contractors to spray where necessary.