Protecting our native species
By Jennifer Holmes

Protecting our native species

Eliminating non-native invasive plants protects our native species.

It’s what we do!

When a species from a different country is introduced to the UK, their aggressive growth patterns mean our native species have more competition for available light, oxygen and nutrients. Often the invading species is better armed to withstand certain environmental conditions such as temperatures (hot and cold), or can easily adapt and thrive to certain habitats. If this ability to thrive means they display growth rates faster than our native species, the result is a more dominant plant that out-competes the native plants. Non-native plants can literally take over, changing the ecosystem and causing a devastating imbalance that native species cannot exist in as the image above shows Crassula helmsii, originating from Australasia swamping a watercourse making it uninhabitable for many native flora and fauna.

It is clear that protecting our native species is vital.

Why is protecting our native species and overall biodiversity so important?

As explained in this latest research Nature crisis one in six species is at risk of extinction in the UK. Invasive non-native species such as Japanese knotweed, Giant hogweed and the water weeds Azolla and Floating pennywort are well known to be the cause of diminishing plant life and the land and water species that depend on them. If our biodiversity continues to be depleted at the current rate, more and more knock-on effects will be experienced across the UK, including flooding and land slides.

Certain native plants and trees protect our river banks, their deep roots stabilising the ground, but if non-native species with shorter or less robust root systems take over the resulting soil erosion leads to burst banks. Further more this leads to fragments of invasive plants being transported downstream where even a small root piece can establish another colony.

It’s therefore obvious that protecting and restoring our ecosystems would also help to tackle the climate crisis.

Here are just a few examples of ecosystems in trouble caused by the highly invasive Bamboo, and Parrot’s feather:

Large bamboo infestation

Parrots feather invading water

Treatment and removal

Controlling or eradicating harmful invasive plants is what we do. Our core specialist services are all about treating and removing plants that endanger habitats, but we do more than that. Choosing the right method (or methods) is vital in protecting biodiversity. It’s an approach that involves looking at the bigger picture and asking the right questions; such as:

  • Which treatment would best control this species?
  • When is the optimum time to carry out the treatment?
  • How often in the species life cycle will we need to carry out treatments for a desired outcome?
  • What considerations should we factor in, such as environmental impact or public safety?
  • When is complete eradication the best option?
  • Will the waste materials be required to go to a licensed landfill?
  • How will this impact our carbon footprint?

These questions and many more are factored in to any treatment or removal project. As experienced contractors with over 23 years’ of working with invasive species, we know how plants respond to certain options, and we know when and how to carry out the treatment or excavation. But we’re constantly looking at ways to combine methods for an overall result that is better for the environment without losing efficacy, and this is called Integrated Weed Management (IWM) or Integrated Pest Management.

IWM does not mean ignoring herbicide application. Instead it’s a way of including other options (such as mechanical, biological or hand methods) that reduces the amount of chemical required. Using approved herbicides to control (or in some cases kill) invasive plants is still a valid option, but adopting an IWM approach ensures invasive species can be controlled with a greater respect to our environment.

If you’d like to speak to us about getting unwanted and harmful infestations under control get in touch.