Over the years, various plants from around the world have been brought to Scotland, either for populating botanical gardens or accidentally when importing goods. Most of these plants do not survive well in Scotland, but unfortunately a few do colonise and become invasive, then known as Invasive Non-Native Species (INNS). These plants have a negative impact on the local ecology and economy.
Galloway Fisheries Trust (GFT) have been treating INNS along the riverbanks throughout Dumfries and Galloway since 2008. Our primary focus is on Japanese knotweed, Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam and American Skunk Cabbage. Where possible, along with treating these plants we encorperate an education program to raise awareness of invasive species and the negative effects these can have on the environment and local economies.
INNS are classed as a plant, animal or fungus that has been introduced from a different place. They can sometimes cause harm to the environment, people or other plants or animals. GFTs’ focus is on the invasive plants found along riverbanks which have proven to have a negative impact on the biodiversity and structural integrity of these areas.
The most prominent species found in Dumfries and Galloway are Japanese knotweed, Giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam, and recently American skunk cabbage. We aim to reduce and maintain the numbers of invasive plants through chemical treatment using herbicide and mechanical removal where possible.
All work we carry out is funded by local organisations or area committees and without this support the work we do would not be possible. We also rely heavily on the support of local volunteers who help on a regular basis.
GFT are currently running two INNS programs. One is focused on the Stewartry rivers (Fleet, Dee and Urr) and the other is focused on the Border Esk and River Sark. These projects are funded separately but both follow similar structure and protocol. The projects have been designed to raise awareness of invasive species and then undertake a co-ordinated programme of control along the effected rivers.
Controlling these plants will benefit local biodiversity, riverside access routes, angling opportunities, local economy and health. As complete irradiation of INNS along river banks is impossible, GFT are aiming to increase the numbers of volunteers trained in surveying and controlling invasives so that this work can continue without the requirement of annual funding.
As part of the Border Esk and River Sark project GFT have started an education program aiming to raise awareness of INNS within schools. Giant hogweed is the main species of interest due to the dangerous nature of the plant and its risk to public health. By informing children of these dangers it will hopefully reduce the risk of harm from these plants.
Thank you to Stewartry Area Committee, Annandale and Eskdale Area Committee and Cumbria Community Foundation for supporting this work.
Each spring the GFT organises an afternoon of presentations covering our work over the previous year. The attendees are usually various funders, supporting organisations, key stakeholders and interested parties.
During the summer this year, we undertook a project (commissioned by Scottish Power) examining why in some years at Tongland fish pass there are a larger number of returning adult Atlantic salmon which are heavily infected with Saprolegnia fungus, in comparison to other years.
A summary of the 2018 timed electrofishing surveys for the Urr are provided. These surveys target salmon fry and provide information on annual fluctuations and distribution across 12 sites spread over the catchment.