Avon Invasive Weed Forum by maclaren1


									         Avon Invasive Weed Forum - Newsletter
                 Halt the Alien Invasion!
Alien plant species such as Japanese Knotweed, Himalayan Balsam and Giant Hogweed
have invaded! and are causing a major impact to our native wildlife.

These alien or non-native plant species were all introduced into Britain by man in Victorian
times and are now spreading rapidly throughout our countryside, and especially along our
riverbanks. These plants grow very quickly and can overshadow native plants and cause
terrible decline or even elimination of native plants in their wake. This invasion can
transform habitats and whole ecosystems, and can also have major impact on buildings
and other structures costing thousands of pounds to deal with.

The Avon Invasive Weed Forum or AIWF is an independent forum group which is
supported by The Environment Agency; Avon and Frome Partnership; Bristol City, South
Gloucestershire, and BANES County Councils; BRERC; The Wildlife Trust; British
Waterways; and Network Rail. It also has support from several local individuals and local
conservation groups.

The Avon Invasive Weed Forum’s main aim is to raise awareness of the issue of non-
native invasive weeds in the Bristol and Avon area. The forum is also working with other
organisations to help co-ordinate their control, and also to improve our understanding of
where these weeds are, by carrying out weed surveys and setting up a public recording

                                    Events and News

May 2009

35 volunteers, including staff from the Environment Agency, Defra, and the local
community, gathered at the River Frome in Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire, on
Friday 22nd May to help the Avon Invasive Weed Forum (AIWF) to Halt the Invasion!
Volunteers worked very hard to clear huge patches of the alien invasive weed, Himalayan
Balsam, from the river banks of the river.

                                                    Picture left: Himalayan Balsam

                                                    Himalayan Balsam spreads easily
                                                    because it produces purplish-pink
                                                    flowers which can produce up to
                                                    800 seeds which are exploded out
                                                    of seed pods and are scattered
                                                    around each plant.

                                                    It is hoped that the work carried out
                                                    at the event will have a major
                                                    impact on the ecosystem, as these
                                                    weeds were cleared before they
                                                    were able to spread their seeds
                                                    this year. Hopefully helping any
                                                    native plant species get a stronger
                                                    hold on the river banks that we
                                                    have cleared. This is important,
                                                    not only to maintain a diverse and
                                                    healthy native ecosystem, but also
                                                    to help prevent erosion of the river
                                                    banks. Himalayan Balsam is a
                                                    problem because it dies back in the
                                                    winter leaving the banks bare and
                                                    vulnerable to erosion.
On Sunday 24 May, local people taking part in the Colliter's Brook Trek, organised by the
South Bristol Riverscapes Project, were given a talk on invasive weeds by the AIWF and
some were also enlisted to help with a survey to map the invasive weeds along the banks
of the Colliter's Brook. This is a brook which flows through Ashton Vale in south Bristol.
This will form part of the AIWF's plan to survey key watercourses in the former Avon area.

                 Picture above: Trekkers on the Colliters Brook Trek, May 24 2009

Both of these events mark the International Day for Biological Diversity on May 22nd.
This year’s focus is non-native species, as Invasive Non-native Species are the second
greatest threat to biodiversity worldwide. It is hoped that this day will raise public
awareness and understanding of the issues.

June 2009

                                               The Bristol Festival of Nature was held at
                                               Bristol's harbourside over the weekend of 6-
                                               7th June 2009. This event attracts up to 40,000
                                               visitors each year, who come to see the
                                               interesting exhibitions, displays, talks and
                                               screenings about all things nature and natural

                                               This year the AIWF had an exhibition and
                                               stand in the Environment Agency marquee at
                                               the festival. It attracted lots of interested
                                               visitors who learnt about invasive weeds and
                                               how to go about getting rid of them in their own
                                               gardens and ponds. We also had some
                                               interest in getting involved in the forum and
                                               volunteer opportunities.
July 2009

On 2nd July 25 volunteers including staff from the Environment Agency’s Wessex Area
Environment Management Team, Bristol City Council, Wessex Water and local youths and
adult conservation volunteers came together to clear Himalayan Balsam from 2 urban
watercourses in Bristol. These were the River Malago in Manor Woods Valley,
Bishopsworth and the Colliters Brook in Ashton Vale. All the hard work and sweat on a
very warm day certainly paid off, as huge patches of this invasive weed were cleared from
both sites.

      Above: Volunteers pulling Himalayan Balsam at the River Malago, Manor Woods, Bishopsworth, Bristol.

               Above: Volunteers pulling Himalayan Balsam at Colliters Brook, Ashton Vale, Bristol.

August 2009

On 4th August another team of Environment Officers and members of the Malago Valley
Conservation Group got together again and pulled out another huge stand of Himalayan
Balsam from the banks of the Malago to follow up the event on the 2 nd July. This time in
torrential rain and wind! But the results were brilliant and we are hoping that with another
session next year we might have almost eradicated it from the park!
September 2009

Members of the Malago Valley and Kingfisher Conservation Groups will be helping the
AIWF to complete the surveying of the River Malago in Bristol. This survey and surveys of
other watercourses in the area will help us to better understand how big the issue is in our
area with non-native invasive weeds.

                                    Upcoming Events

The AIWF will be arranging several more volunteer events and invasive weed surveys.

If you would like to get involved in the Forum or if you would like to lend a hand in future
events, please contact them on info@aiwf.org.uk or check out the AIWF web site at

Victoria Freke - Project Officer, Avon Invasive Weed Forum.

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