Identifying INNS Along Our River

A major achievement for The Aire Rivers Trust has been the elimination of giant hogweed from Cononley down to Esholt.
Giant hogweed is an invasive, and dangerous, non-native plant from Asia. It was introduced to this country an ornamental garden plant. Sap from giant hogweed can cause skin to become photosensitive for extended periods after exposure. This can lead to severe burns. Giant hogweed is a serious menace to anglers, dog walkers and river users.
In 2015 volunteers from the Trust were able to show that there was a major spread of giant hogweed along the banks of the Aire. Giant hogweed was observed in flower from Cononley to Bingley. These observations enabled us to bring the spread to Environment Agency attention. Up until then their efforts had focused in the Upper Aire and they were not aware that it had spread downstream. The Environment Agency had the time and money to treat these plants but needed a second person to be with them during the treatment process. The Aire Rivers Trust supplied that second person to help locate giant hogweed and allow spraying to take place.
Fortunately, this was done before the major flood in 2015. The flood would have distributed the seeds far and wide if the plants had been allowed to seed in the summer of 2015.

Trustees from the Trust have also been able to make Yorkshire Water aware of giant hogweed downstream of Esholt sewage works. They have brought contractors in to treat this.
Giant Hogweed - spring emergence
Giant Hogweed - mature

We also have extensive areas affected by Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed.

Himalayan Balsam may have pretty pink flowers but it blankets the land where it grows and blocks out any other form of vegetation. So it reduces biodiversity and in the winter the barren ground is more susceptible to being washed away in floods. We regularly run volunteer events clearing this weed, but you can easily pull it out yourself.

Japanese Knotweed was originally introduced by a plantsman from Leeds (!) and will grow through tarmac and even some layers of concrete; it has even appeared inside houses where it grows adjacent to walls! As with Himalayan Balsam, it totally blankets the ground where it grows. It can be removed by persistent cutting back over several years or by stem-injection of a commercial herbicide - if you need our help to do this then please contact us.

Himalayan Balsam
Japanese Knotweed

As well as the issues with vegetation mentioned above, we are concerned about the spread of the American Red-Clawed Crayfish.

This import is taking over our rivers and driving out the native White-Clawed species. The invader is bigger and can out-compete the native for food, moreover it carries a fungal disease that can be fatal to the native. All in all a bad deal and, if truth be told, it's possibly a lost battle although efforts are being made to protect the last few locations where only native crayfish can be found.

Read more about invasive species...

© Copyright Aire Rivers Trust 2020
The Aire Rivers Trust is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales No: 07464227 and a Registered Charity No: 1145609
Registered Office at: 38 Morton Lane, East Morton, Keighley BD20 5RS
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