Invasive plant control impresses students

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THE work to eradicate non-native invasive plants from the River Esk and other watercourses in its catchment is on a university curriculum.

The University of Glasgow environmental science students are shown the invasive plants on the River Esk by Victoria Semple, front left, of the Galloway Fisheries TrustRachel Norris
Rachel Norris
The University of Glasgow environmental science students are shown the invasive plants on the River Esk by Victoria Semple, front left, of the Galloway Fisheries TrustRachel Norris

The environmental science students at the University of Glasgow's Crichton Campus were shown the types of invasive plants on the Esk in Langholm on Monday.

They were given a presentation at the Buccleuch Estates offices before taking a walk downstream with Victoria Semple, fisheries biologist and invasives officer at the Galloway Fisheries Trust.

The trust has secured funding from the Beck Burn windfarm community benefit fund in Longtown and also received £3,500 from Annandale and Eskdale area committee towards the project.

Victoria said: "The students were impressed by the work being done and they could see its effects. They were also interested in how long it takes and the effort needed to do it.

"They saw some graphic photos of the effects of the giant hogweed which burns and blisters people's skin.

"Hogweed is increasing every year and a lot of it is down to flooding which is spreading the seeds downstream. We're trying to get on top of it.

"Himalayan balsam is the worst and we pulled up a lot of that last year. The treatment is done during the summer and in the winter it is a case of surveying.

"We're extending into England and going down to the mouth of the Esk in the Solway."

During the winter Victoria will also undertake an education programme in schools through a series of workshops.

This includes displaying an eight-foot high giant hogweed, safely covered up, a stuffed Mink called Martin and lobster costumes for the kids to dress up in.

She said: "My priority is the giant hogweed because of the dangers to public health so they know what they are and what a big problem they are.

"A lot of people are worried about invasive plants but they're not a priority for the Scottish government which has cut our funding. Invasive plants cause erosion and wipe out native plants."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 11:57AM
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