Residents urged to report invasive species sightings

Tweed Forum project officer Emily Iles with some giant skunk cabbage.
Tweed Forum project officer Emily Iles with some giant skunk cabbage.

The Tweed Forum is calling for help from the public to report invasive plant species in north Northumberland and the Borders this summer.

The organisation is embarking on its 15th annual programme of invasive species control in an effort to improve river safety and access, and protect the Tweed catchment’s native biodiversity.

Led by Tweed Forum project officer Emily Iles, a team of around 30 volunteers is heading to the banks of the Tweed and its tributaries this month to tackle the first plant on the hit list – giant hogweed.

Giant hogweed can grow up to 16 foot tall and has toxic sap which can cause severe burns and blistering if it comes into contact with the skin and so must be treated with extreme care. It also leaves large patches of bare soil when it dies back in the winter making them very susceptible to erosion during a flood.

Japanese knotweed, American skunk cabbage and Himalayan balsam will also be targeted by the Forum and its volunteer and contractor teams in the coming weeks and months.

In order to help the public identify and report sightings of the plants, the Tweed Forum will be posting pictures of them on its Facebook page throughout the summer.

Once reported, trained personnel will then treat the plants using either mechanical or chemical means and will document each one using handheld GPS devices so that their distribution can be easily mapped and resources deployed to maximum effect.

Emily said: “Each year, the invasive species team walk hundreds of miles of watercourses and deal with thousands of invasive plants in order to ensure our communities, tourist industries and native biodiversity are protected.”

Anyone spotting an invasive plant species should call the Tweed Forum on 01896 849723.