By Kevin Lerwill
Gatwick Greenspace Project Community Wildlife Officer
Last week, The Gatwick Greenspace Partnership again participated in this programme of volunteer activities, organised by Surrey Wildlife Trust (our project works on both sides of the Sussex/Surrey border), to highlight and tackle the growing problem of invasive species infesting our local waterways and green spaces.
Of course, this work is ongoing across the whole of the UK and is not confined to just one week a year (if only that were the case)! However, by running a series of events like this, it does focus peoples’ attention on the subject again each year and acts a reminder that we can never be complacent about this issue, even though we are working hard in partnership with our conservation partners and government agencies to try and contain the spread of the worst culprits, which include Himalayan balsam, Japanese knotweed, skunk cabbage, giant hogweed, signal crayfish, zebra mussels and North American mink, amongst others.
The problems associated with these species are well documented and well known to those landowners affected by them (chiefly, they out-compete, predate on and displace native plants and animals, can cause damage to infrastructure and buildings and can increase the risk of flooding, costing millions of pounds worth of damage each year). However, I still find it surprising just how many people are still not aware of the problem/s on their own doorstep in some cases, or what can be done about them when they find them.
There is also a free Invasive Species Workshop taking place at Chesworth Farm in Horsham on Wednesday 22nd July, organised by the Arun and Rother Connections team, so if you want to know more about the species in question, or how to tackle them, please contact Kate Whitton (the ARC Volunteer Co-ordinator) on 01273 763377 or email; [email protected]
If you know of any invasive plant or animal species on your land (or on land near you) and want advice on tackling it, you can also contact the Gatwick Greenspace Partnership on 01293 550730 to report it or you can email me at; [email protected]