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Public urged to report harmful invasive species in Yorkshire

Tuesday 11th July 2017

Giant hogweedGiant hogweed

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is alerting the public to the dangers of invasive species and asks for sightings to be reported.

The Yorkshire Invasive Species Forum, a partnership between Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and the Calder & Colne Rivers Trust, has been working to control invasive plant species in the region, including giant hogweed, which has seen widespread media coverage following injuries inflicted on members of the public who come into close contact with the plant.

As giant hogweed and other invasive plants begin to flower and treatment is in full flow, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust is alerting the public to the dangers of these non-native plants and asking for sightings to be reported.

Invasive species are those that have been introduced outside their normal habitat range, often due to human action. This is particularly true of two of the best known invasives: Japanese knotweed and giant hogweed, which were both introduced as ornamental plants during the 19th century. These species have no natural predators in their new environment and can grow faster than their native counterparts, meaning that they outcompete and displace native wildlife. The rapid growth of invasive species alters the local ecology and reduces biodiversity, as well as increasing flood risk and having a considerable economic impact.

The majority of watercourses throughout West and South Yorkshire have large areas of giant hogweed and Japanese knotweed infection. Survey data has enabled a sustainable treatment strategy where invasive species are targeted from the headwaters down, preventing reinfection from upstream sources, but Yorkshire Wildlife Trust want the public to keep looking out for these plants and report any findings to help combat the problem.

Rob Sowden, Project Assistant at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust said: “We have enjoyed some treatment success in the Colne and Holme rivers in recent years and have recorded die back of Japanese Knotweed of up to 80% from Marsden through to Paddock near Huddersfield after the 2nd year treatment. We are now aiming to cover the entire length of these two rivers this year, from Slaithwaite and Holmbridge respectively to Huddersfield town centre, as well as initiating works on the Don and Rother from Dunford Bridge through Penistone and Stocksbridge. But we will need the help of partners, landowners and the public.”

He continued: “Tackling invasive species is a real challenge, but being part of the effort and seeing the desire of the wider community to clean up stretches of river around Yorkshire is really rewarding. Having landowners engaged in the programme is the most cost-effective solution to combating these two most important invasive species and the public can help by reporting the spread of invasive plants through the plant tracker app.”

Descriptions of common invasive species, including giant hogweed, can be found on Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s website: The public can help with the survey effort by using the ‘Plant Tracker’ app on their smartphone.

If you want more information or advice please email or call 01484 663185.