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Help needed to combat invasive plants in the Churnet Valley

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: June 10, 2014

By Belinda Hargreaves

Himalayan Balsam.

Himalayan Balsam.

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An appeal is being made for volunteers to help combat the invasion of 'habitat snatchers' in the Churnet Valley.

Invasive non-native species are now widely recognised as the second biggest threat to biodiversity worldwide.

The natural habitat of the Churnet Valley is currently under siege from several of these species, such as Himalayan Balsam, Japanese Knotweed, Rhododendron and Giant Hogweed.

They are said to cause major problems for native UK plants and reduce the variety of wildlife where they take hold.

A spokesperson for the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership explained: "Japanese knotweed, for example, is a non-native weed which can block footpaths and damage concrete, Tarmac and the stability of river banks.

"Even the rhododendron, despite its attractive show of spring flowers, can be a headache for woodland managers as it produces dense thickets where little else can survive.

"The non-native species most likely to be seen alongside our waterways at this time of year is Himalayan Balsam. This plant forms dense areas, suppressing the growth of grasses and native plants, leaving the banks of rivers and canals bare of vegetation in autumn, which are then liable to erosion in the winter."

During the summer the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership is asking if walkers, anglers and community groups will come together to tackle the Himalayan Balsam problem before the plants can release their seeds.

Local volunteers are being recruited to get involved by joining in organised parties to cut the plants back to ground level or pull the plants from the ground and create compost piles. Watch out for the 'Big Pull' Week, July 19-27, when work parties will be mobilised throughout the valley.

For more information contact Helen Anderson on 01538 381356 or email helenanderson@smcvs.co.uk.

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