Focus on ponds in National Invasive Species Week

National Invasive Species Week kicks off next week (24thMay). The annual event will be largely virtual this year, with a series of seminars and webinars hosted across the UK to raise awareness of invasive species and how everyone can help prevent their spread.

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 12:00 am
Non-native invasive species such as American Skunk Cabbage and Canadian Pondweed should be carefully removed from ponds. Photo courtesy of Ian Talboys, RSPB.

While there’s a growing awareness around the most common invasive species on the River Dee, such as Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam, much less is known about the non-native species to be found lurking in many a pond across the catchment, as Environment Planner for Aberdeenshire Council Judith Cox, explains:

“Most ponds contain plants which are beneficial for wildlife and generally speaking, a good variety of plants will provide a wider range of wildlife habitats. But some ponds in north east Scotland have been found to contain several non-native invasive species – plants that can spread very quickly and soon take over, forming dense mats and smothering out native species, leading to a reduction in the variety of wildlife your pond can support.”

Removing such invasive species from ponds can be challenging however, as Judith continues: “When you clear a pond that’s been infested with a non native invasive species, it’s important you dispose of the unwanted plants carefully and don’t just move the problem elsewhere. In fact, it’s illegal to cause an invasive species to spread or grow in the wild.”

Aberdeenshire Council has produced guidance on how best to clear invasive species from ponds, highlighting the most common problem species in the area.

Invasive non native species champion for Aberdeenshire Council, Councillor Annouk Kloppert, added: “Invasive, non native species are a big problem, costing the UK an estimated £2.7 billion in damage to forests, crops and infrastructure every year, and outcompeting and driving native species to extinction. We all have a role to play in helping to stop the spread of invasive species, whether in own gardens and ponds, or reporting an unfamiliar plant while out and about in the catchment.”

The efforts of the River Dee Trust, and many other partners within the Dee Catchment Partnership, have gone a long way in recent years to tackling the problem here in Aberdeenshire, but there’s always more to be done.

Individuals can report any sightings of invasive species to the North East Scotland Biological Records Centre or Aberdeenshire Council