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PIONEERING NEW APPROACHES TO EXMOOR’S INVASIVE SPECIES PROBLEM

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CASTRATION AND ELECTROCUTION are two ground-breaking new ways of tackling invasive plant and animal species being trialled in Exmoor National Park, highlighted as part of Invasive Species Week this week*.

Japanese and Himalayan Knotweed are two of Britain’s most invasive weeds and have caused extensive damage to several of Exmoor’s most precious watercourses, such as the Lyn, Heddon and Barle - all Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

A ten year collaboration between Exmoor National Park Authority, the Environment Agency, Natural England and the National Trust to try and control the problem has proved highly successful, with the plant now being controlled across an area the size of six Wembley football pitches, thanks to the support from local landowners.

Exmoor is now among a handful of UK sites where a pioneering new method of control is being trialled, involving electrocuting the weed’s root system. It is hoped the new approach will avoid the need for repeat spraying with herbicides, which can impact the environment, although not nearly so much as the plants themselves.

Elsewhere on Exmoor’s waterways, another non-native invasive species is being dealt a tough blow. An estimated quarter of a million North American signal crayfish inhabit the River Barle, with potentially devastating consequences for our native wildlife.  

The River Barle Crayfish Project is now tackling the problem in an innovative new way never before tried outside of captivity – by castrating the larger more dominant male signal crayfish. After this harmless procedure, they are returned to the river where it is hoped they will continue to outcompete smaller males to control breeding.

Later this year findings are due to be published on the Project – which exists as a partnership between Exmoor National Park Authority, the Environment Agency and the River Exe & Tributaries Association.

Ali Hawkins, Wildlife Conservation Officer at Exmoor National Park Authority, said: “It’s great to be trialling innovative new techniques like these that could potentially help with the problem of invasive species on Exmoor, without further damage to our delicate ecosystems.

“Many of the habitats here are protected for their uniqueness and scientific value, so it’s vital that we do all we can to safeguard them from these foreign invaders. We’d love more volunteers to come forward and help us stop the spread by signing up to one of our training days, or reporting sightings of invasive species through our website.”

People wishing to volunteer for these two projects and others like them can find out more at www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/get-involved.

ENDS

Contact the press office:

Ailsa Stevens

T: 01398 322244

M: 07772092128

E: astevens@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk

Notes to editors

* GBNon-Native Species Secretariat (NNSS) and Defra hold Invasive Species Week during the last week of March each year, bringing together a range of organisations to raise awareness of invasive non-native species and inspire people to #GetINNSvolved and stop the spread. http://www.nonnativespecies.org/index.cfm?sectionid=132

About Exmoor National Park Authority

First designated in 1954, Exmoor National Park has an amazing variety of landscapes within its 267 square miles – stunning coast, moorland, woodland, valleys and farmland and more than 800 miles of rights of way to enjoy. It is one of 15 National Parks in the United Kingdom and in 2011 was designated Europe’s first International Dark Sky Reserve.

Exmoor National Park Authority works in partnership with the community, local councils, businesses and other organisations to look after the National Park and promote its conservation and enjoyment.

Donations to Caremoor for Exmoor are gratefully received towards the upkeep of the National Park and its special qualities.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or visit www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk for more information.

Published: 9 April 2018

Contact the press office:

Ailsa Stevens
T: 01398 323665
E: info@exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk