Giant hogweed control on the River AyrOngoing since 2008
Since 2008 the Trust has performed annual control of giant hogweed within the Ayr catchment. This strategic control programme has greatly reduced both the occurrence and seed bank of this plant. However, we are still some years from eradication which we believe is a realistic aim.
Giant Hogweed is a non native and invasive species that out competes native species to the detriment of the environment. It dies back in winter leaving large areas of bare soil that is prone to erosion in winter spates. This in turn leads to fine sediment depositing on spawning beds and also enrichment as nitrates and phosphates are bound to soil particles.It is also a dangerous plant and it shouldn’t be touched as the sap reacts with sunlight and burns the skin leaving huge blisters and highly sensitive to exposure to sunlight for years to come. It can cause blindness if eye contact is made so it shouldn’t be strimmed under any circumstances yet we frequently hear of people doing this and suffering for it.
The plant first appeared within the River Ayr catchment around 1964 and quickly spread out of control along the length of the watercourse. The plant is monocarpic and dies after producing seeds in its fourth year. The seed bank can remain viable for well over ten years and therefore while we have reduced the occurrence of this plant dramatically, we continue to see plants emerge each year and will continue to do so until the seed bank is exhausted.
Subject to securing annual funding, the Trust expects to continue with control which takes around 40 man days each year.
Anyone finding these plants or wishing to seek advice on their control should contact the Trust.