The grant, from the Environment Agency’s Water Environment Improvement Fund (WEIF), will enable the Trust’s New Forest Non-Native Plants Project to continue its work to combat the spread of invasive non-native plants. These include Himalayan balsam and giant hogweed, plants which have ‘jumped the garden fence’ and invaded the countryside where they cause harm to our native wildlife.
The funding has enabled Project Officers Catherine Chatters and Jo Gore to continue the battle against Himalayan balsam with the help of volunteers along the Cadnam River, the Avon Water and the Lymington River and its tributaries, the Passford Water and the Mill Lawn Brook. The grant will also pay for work by professional contractors to control giant hogweed along the Avon Water and American skunk cabbage along the Fleet Water.
Catherine Chatters said:
“I am really pleased that our bid to the Environment Agency has been successful as it’s enabled the New Forest Non-Native Plants Project to start work on the Danes Stream which has been invaded by Himalayan balsam and American skunk cabbage. With the co-operation of landowners and help from the Milford Conservation Volunteers we’ve started to pull up the Himalayan balsam and contractors have been commissioned to control the American skunk cabbage.”
Sam Orchard, New Forest Catchment Coordinator for the Environment Agency said:
“The Environment Agency are pleased to support this important project. Invasive non-native species (INNS) outcompete native plant species and can easily get out of control, impacting wildlife and even water quality. This work will protect and enhance many km of river running through the New Forest and reduce the threat INNS pose to protected habitats and species.”
Invasive non-native plants out-compete native plants and they also affect wildlife by shading streams. Waterways give invasive non-native plants an easy way to spread as seeds travel well in water. For this reason, the project focuses on removing invasive species along rivers and in wetland habitats.
The New Forest Non-Native Plants Project is hosted by Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and funded by a partnership including the Environment Agency, the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship Scheme, Forestry England, the New Forest National Park Authority, Natural England, the New Forest Trust, the Test and Itchen Catchment Partnership and Lymington and Pennington Town Council.