Volunteers help fight plant menace

Volunteers have been helping the trusts in the battle to control the plants
Volunteers have been helping the trusts in the battle to control the plants

The battle to rid the banks of the Dee and Don of invasive plants is showing signs of success.

River Dee and River Don Trusts and an army of volunteers have been tackling the menace with renewed vigour.

Himalayan balsam is the biggest problem on the Dee with a survey at the start of 2017 identifying nearly 100 acres affected.

Other culprits are the invasive Japanese knotweed, with roots that break through concrete, and giant hogweed, whose sap causes severe burns on skin contact.

From Drumoak to Aberdeen, the plants have taken hold and over the last three years Offset Mitigation funding from the AWPR project has allowed increased efforts to control them.

Dr Lorraine Hawkins, River Dee Trust manager said: “Are we winning the battle? Well, at this stage we are optimistic.

“We’ve had a lot of support from volunteers, helping to locate plants, spraying them with herbicide or pulling them out of the ground.

“In 2017 our surveys showed that Japanese knotweed now covers only 10% of the area it did in 2015, thanks to continual spraying with herbicide.

“The amount of giant hogweed and Himalayan balsam on Deeside has increased compared to 2015, but this is due to the effect of Storm Frank, which spread their seeds far and wide.”

She added: “Where we apply treatment, we have found a significant reduction in these plants – even in one year - showing that control is possible.

“Giant hogweed has has now overrun many of the riverbanks on Donside. It is unmistakable when full-grown, reaching up to five metres tall. The sap is toxic and causes severe burns, and so it should be avoided.”

A North East Invasive Non-Native Species Forum is being set up and meets at the Kintore Arms Hotel, Inverurie, on February 28.

Further details from calum@riverdee.org