This was a very good event, judging from the numerous positive responses heard by my colleague Abby and myself, both of us attending this event to up our own skills and to meet a range of stakeholders.
This event was made possible through the Heritage Lottery Fund grant money for one of the 25 projects within the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme, the ‘Ditch Management to the East of the Ouse Washes’ project. Following successful fieldwork carried out by Jonathan Graham (consultant botanist) and Martin Hammond (consultant aquatic invertebrate specialist), Jonathan Graham, together with Cliff Carson (Environmental Officer, Middle Level Commissioners) delivered this exiting training half-day event.
After an introduction about invasive species, and a differentiation between ‘non-native’ and ‘invasive’ species (‘invasives’ being ‘non-natives which have a tendency to spread and pose a threat to the environment and/or human health), we continued with an overview of the mist important invasive water plants to look out for.
The top five ‘hazardous species’ (some of which are already wide-spread, some still only locally present) are [click on links to get to relevant description pages on www.nonnativespecies.org – note: click on ‘link to ID sheet’ for handy pdfs for each species]:
With examples on each table of these species, as well as native species with which they could be confused, we then all went to learn to identify these, with the help of several specialists walking around the room (including both speakers as well as Charles Turner, Research Associate Quaternary Palaeoecology, for the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge).
A range of very useful handouts also passed on the day; these include:
- ID handouts downloadable through the http://www.nonnativespecies.org.uk website (see links with specific species above);
- Environment Agency’s report (2010), ‘Managing invasive non-native plants’
- ACE report, ‘Freshwater Biosecurity Plan’, 2014.
- Katy Owen (Norfolk CC) also introduced the Th@t’s invasive App – part of the RINSE/ SELFIN European project on non-natives (I went to the conference in Norwich last week on this programme which is just ending)
This workshop/ training event was a very practical approach to finding out what is there and how to identify the non-natives; plus guidance how to avoid mis-recording (e.g., some similar-looking rare fen specialist plants that could be confusing).
The event was attended by a wide range of people, including staff from Internal Drainage Boards, Middle Level Commissioners, Natural England, several conservation organisations as well as representatives of various local community groups. Some of the abundant positive feedback we received from participants:
“Good to have some training, much better than just looking at books or cards”
” It always opens your eyes when you are shown what to look out for!”
“Session invaluable, very useful to see plants up close”
” The various methods of control were compared, contrasted and explained”
“Excellent idea for promoting and sharing knowledge of invasive plants”